RECENTLY I WAS READING an interview with Jay Gould, CEO of Interface Corp. He has wonderful experience leading a variety of companies, large and small.

He described a trend he’s noticed called “purpose-washing.” He uses it to describe companies that slap a message of purpose on their outreach to employees because they’ve heard that Millennials want that kind of thing.

That’s like declaring “New and Improved!!!!” because you want something to say on the box that looks exciting.

We can all poke fun at companies that do this, but not so quickly. You might be falling into the trap yourself.

Your mission and purpose and values are only real if they’re PERVASIVE. They have to be a part of most conversations, and how you think about every part of your company. Your customer messages. Your hiring. Your internal reporting.

Until you reach this level of pervasiveness, there’s always the chance that your right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

And even that newbie front-line employee might be actively damaging your mission.

So get out there. Get clear on your mission. Then tell stories and interact with everybody who works for you. And partners.

That’s what a leader does.