There has to be a better way to handle inspiration. Doesn’t it seem that at times we ride this escalator to the top of the mountain only to tumble back down from a strong gust at the summit? The efficacy of the inspiration stalls; it’s predicated upon circumstance which we know changes frequently.
How many Hoosiers, Miracle, Rudy, (insert one of a zillion other movie greats) speeches can we give? Those speeches are delivered at a moment in time. Our desire is to make that moment last when we know it cannot. That’s why it’s a moment. It’s why The Mighty Ducks 3 isn’t as inspiring as the first (C’mon, you weren’t inspired by the first one?)
Effective inspiration consists of a deliberate balance between moments and the cultural training that occurs as a result of those moments. Cultural training? Yes! Everyday, leadership instills an understanding of how things are, ought to be and will be. Leaders deliver unspoken words of “don’t touch, don’t ask, don’t even think about it” as much as they deliver “please do, please ask, please engage.” The context becomes clearer to employees as to when those messages are applied. A culture then develops through the understanding of what can be and who is demonstrating “right” behavior.
When we deliver inspiring thoughts and a call to action, we do so in the context of the culture. If we say “Let’s go get ‘em” enough but are unable to “get ‘em” then we deliver a message that cannot be met. Failure is okay; repeated failure means it can’t be done or you’re not the one who can do it. And so, culturally, if we tell our team to keep going despite the inability to reach, we show that we don’t know our people, process or product. The inspiring words are foolishness.
I find myself consistently saying “Know your audience.” Inspiration is lost on those who’ve heard it before and seen no action. If, as a leader, you don’t realize the attitude in your culture, then no one is following you. How are you a leader? There is no influence happening.
Our intention to motivate is real. Ultimately, we want employees to be inspired to greatness (if you don’t, you should seriously think about changing careers or changing your attitude, bearing in mind that changing roles still brings your attitude with you). We have a workforce that wants to be the hero. We can inspire them to that with messaging, tools and process that set them up for success.
Inspiration becomes emotionally charged very easily. That trap is attractive. It’s feelings-oriented and it presents itself as effective in that moment. We’ve all done it in our attempt to encourage and push.
Let’s change the perspective and work to change culture through appropriate cultural impact. Are competencies there? Are processes ready to handle the effect of inspiration? Is messaging consistent and thoughtful? Simply, again, are we setting others up for success? That’s what is truly inspiring and will give a return for quite some time. Go Ducks!