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Articulate a mission that matters

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Many CEOs realize that they need a mission statement that guides the organization and its employees. But a trite mission can fall flat.

Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita Healthcare Partners, doesn’t just rely on a vaguely worded mission. In 2011, he articulated what he calls the four “rings” of DaVita’s strategy.

1. “The greatest kidney dialysis company” that the world has ever seen. Setting such an ambitious aspiration raises the bar for every staffer, and it helps Thiry drive peak performance among all 57,400 employees.

2. “We are a village first and a company second.” In a village, people take care of each other. They make decisions that enable the village to thrive.

Most employees want to work in a village. DaVita’s managers contrast Thiry’s eagerness to bring people to­­gether with some other healthcare CEOs who dwell on quarterly earnings and stock price.

3. “Role model for American health care.” Because the U.S. health care system faces serious challenges, Thiry wants his workforce to know that they are part of the solution.

To reinforce this message, Thiry sought to achieve excellent patient care at all of DaVita’s dialysis centers. How? Thiry and other senior managers “adopted” designated centers and oversaw their operations closely.

4. “Citizen leadership.” He wants to attach a larger meaning to everyone’s job beyond growth and profits—an im­­perative to give back to the community.

— Adapted from The Agility Factor, Christopher Worley, Thomas Williams and Edward Lawler III. Jossey-Bass.

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