Inspire Great Work Through Others!

Early in my career, I had the privilege of shadowing busy executives across several lines of business. A common successful skill they shared was understanding how to inspire great work through others.

New managers and aspiring executives rarely embrace leveraging others for greatness. They’re necessarily focused on tactical results, personal goals, or balance sheets. They succumb quickly to the ponzi scheme of stealing time from their other tasks that appear less urgent despite the potential for being more important. They even compromise work/life balance preferring to steal even more time from family and friends.

Technology is an all too eager accomplice in the ponzi scheme of stealing time. 

The common prescription is the one-dimensional technique of delegation. The idea that work should be passed down to staff, expertly explained, and carefully monitored. A rinse and repeat recipe.

While a necessary skill, delegation by itself rarely inspires anyone to do great work.

The secret to inspiring great work from others is to understand there are no short cuts. You’re not going to be effective at delegation and inspiration if you are the poster child for manipulation, or micro-management, or poor time management, or inconsistent performance.

Inspiring great work through others doesn’t come from policy manuals, bonus incentives, or even the perfect organizational structure or hippest company culture.

The executives I shadowed rarely presumed that the power of logic would be effective. Nor did they rely on a single technique or a single directive. What were their secrets?

  • Focusing on people instead of processes
  • Appealing to emotion instead of abstract logic
  • Messaging only one important idea versus a laundry list of confusing directives
  • Repeating that single message frequently using all available channels (in-person, phone, and electronic)
  • Active listening and solicitation for resonance and modifying the approach based on feedback
  • Celebrating staff achievements  to reinforce willing cooperation before those achievements fade, grow stale, and incubate resentment

How do you inspire others to do Great Work?


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