I recently had the opportunity to lead a workshop about building marketing from a strong foundation of mission or purpose. But there was a sticking point for many in the room: They weren’t the business owner, so they didn’t feel they had the right, or the power, to declare what their company’s mission might be.

And they were right. This is the kind of stuff that gets created by owners and executive teams and such.

But that’s not the end of the story!

If you want to take some leadership in your particular job, there are some powerful and useful steps you can take.

First, adopt the philosophy that you are running your own little business in your domain. This was one of the best pieces of advice given to me by a manager over thirty years ago, and I came to realize the power in this shift of perspective.

Let’s say that your company makes office supplies, and your particular job is to create the marketing plan for the X4t line of staplers. So you’re nowhere near the top of the food chain in this company, and may not even have anyone working for you.

Ask yourself: If I were my own little marketing company creating an approach to sell these stapliers, how would I get myself motivated to do amazing work? The answer could be that you want to become a truly outstanding, exceptional, creative marketer in the world of office supplies. Or maybe you’d want to be super efficient, focusing on rapid production of quality work. Or you could decide it’s all about the end result of motivating customers to buy an unbelievable number of staplers.

How would you decide which of these would be appropriate as the mission for your little marketing-planning business? That’s the second point, which is to test how well it’s aligned to the organization around you. Ideally your bosses are giving you goals and measuring you on some kind of result. If it’s not clear enough, you can decide to make it more specific and measurable, just to serve your need for clarity, focus, and motivation.

Then, third, organize the people around you into customers, partners, and suppliers:

  • Customers receive your work and care about whether it serves their need.
  • Partners help you deliver that work, and you help them as well.
  • Suppliers give you your “raw materials” upon which you build your work.

By doing this, you’re clarifying the relationship between you and them, and it helps you focus on the right balance of value-delivered and value-received. If someone’s a “customer,” you have to understand what motivates them at a much deeper level than just the surface requirements they give you. “Partners” need to get feedback about what they give you, balanced with giving value to them and creating a process where things flow smoothly. “Suppliers” need to understand what you need, and to be rewarded properly for the value they deliver.

If you’re going to take leadership in your job and whatever group you might head up, think about it as if it were its own little business. In the context of the overall organization, because EVERY business lives within a context and ecosystem.

In that, you’ll discover and create your mission, purpose, values … whatever motivates you to do outstanding work.