“Mission First, People Always” is a motto in the military to describe their emphasis on getting the job done while taking care of their people. 

While I never served in the military, I have always held a great respect for all our veterans and service members. When I first heard the phrase, I thought it was a great way to emphasize the importance of purpose and people. 

Recently, people have shared the motto in relation to business, which I think is a great concept. However, it might not be obvious how this applies on a practical level to your average business. 

In this blog, I break down what “Mission First, People Always” looks like in practice. 

Mission First, People Always: Put Your Purpose Before Your Profits 

Look, every business needs money to operate. And there’s nothing wrong with making a profit! 

However, the most successful businesses always have a purpose BEYOND making money. It could be something ambitious Tesla’s purpose to switch America over to electric cars, or something as humble as serving nutritious food with organic ingredients. 

Your purpose or your “mission” is important. It keeps you focused on what really matters in the long term. That’s providing real value to your customers and staying true to who you are. 

To embody “Mission First, People Always,” you should never put profits above your purpose.  

As an example, here at Qualigence we identified an opportunity to sell ready-to-download candidate lists. 

It would have made us more money. But we decided not to do it. 


Because our purpose is to put people at the center of every business. 

It wouldn’t have provided as much value as our traditional research services. 

And that’s not what we’re about. 

Besides, I firmly believe it will pay off in the long run. You can’t put a price tag on the relationships you build with customers by providing real value…each and every time. 

Mission First, People Always: Put in the Time to Know Your People 

This point applies mostly to your leadership. I’m not just talking about the C-suite – I mean anyone who leads a team at your business. 

To embody a “People Always” mentality, your leaders need to truly understand each team member on an individual level. 

You cannot support someone unless you understand them. You must understand their motivations, goals, strengths, weaknesses and so forth. 

Take remote work. If you want to support your team by allowing them to work remotely, that’s great. But some team members might prefer working in the office and struggle more working from home. 

In order to really learn your people, you need to have effective, structured 1:1 conversations.

Leadership isn’t about making people happy. But it is about helping people be BETTER. And to do that, you have to understand what they truly want – at work and in life. 

Mission First, People Always: Get What’s Best FOR Your People – Not FROM Your People 

In the world of business, we’re taught to get what’s best FROM our people. 

But that’s looking at it backwards. 

Instead, we need to strive to get what’s best FOR our people. 

It’s a mindset that if we do right by our people and support them best we can, it benefits us more in the long run. 

Consider a large, resource-intensive program to upskill current employees. 

If you’re focused on getting the best FROM your people, it may not seem worth it. You may worry about spending a lot of money to train employees who could quit at any time. 

But if you’re focused on getting the best FOR your people, you see it differently. You know that even if some people leave…the people who stay will provide more value for your business. Furthermore, they’ll feel more loyalty to a company that helped them develop new skills. 

With a “Mission First, People Always” mentality, you strive to get the best for your people. 

Leading the Way Forward 

If you adopt a “Mission First, People Always” mindset for your business, you won’t just be leading your people. You’ll also be leading your industry forward. The businesses that double down on their purpose and their people are the ones that make history!