Times they are a-changin’ – If only Bob Dylan would have known just how fast change could be…
As a leader, you know that to keep up with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, which is today’s new normal, you have to be the Houdini of leadership. You have to somehow manage to be responsive, agile, and disruptive; create a diverse, inclusive, heart-centered and purpose-driven culture; and build a deliberately developmental organization. Oh yeah, and do it all while being operationally leaner and more efficient than ever.
The question is- how are you going to do it?
The better question is how are you going to do it in a way that drives growth and sustainable performance?
Lucky for you, we aren’t Houdini, but we are willing to share our secret.
In order to succeed in today’s world of work and lead into the future, you need to manage a new resource: inspiration.
I know what you’re thinking. Inspiration is one of those “soft” words, that can’t be measured, or controlled.
Well, think again.
More than time, energy, money and workflow, sustainable inspiration is the resource that will produce the greatest employee experience and performance. Inspiration is when your people have their best day more often.
It turns out, inspiration isn’t a fleeting visitor, showing up when we least expect it and leaving just as quickly as it arrives. In fact, you can ignite, sustain and scale inspiration across people and at every level of your organization. Inspiration is a muscle that can be sparked, strengthened and managed in way that produces extraordinary things.
I’m sure you’re wondering- how does inspiration really work?
Aaaahhh, we can’t give away all of our secrets, especially not in one short blog! However, here is an example of what it might look like:
Recently I spent a day with a wonderful team, many of who are new to their roles, including the team leader. They have been grinding hard on rolling out a new strategic plan for the past six months. In advance of our time together, we asked them to think about how they see their organizational values show up in each other and come prepared with one example each.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. When I asked for a volunteer to open the conversation with an example, there was silence, and I got scared. What if no one had anything to say?
After giving it a minute, someone raised his hand. He offered the most lovely example of how his colleague exhibits authenticity in her role (authenticity being one of their core values). She blushed. Before he finished, someone else on the team asked if she could jump in and expand on the original example. This time, it brought tears to her eyes.
This exercise went on for almost 45 minutes- the team acknowledging each other, sharing dozens of examples of how they all bring the organizational values to life in powerful ways. There were tears, surprise at being seen, and the deepening of connection to each other, the team and the organization. This is inspiration in action.
So what does this mean for you?
We know how important the experience of your employees is, especially in building the kind of organizational culture that stands out and drives results.
We also know that your employee experience directly impacts your client and customer experience, which inevitably translates to the experience of your brand.
In a survey conducted by West Monroe of Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) members near-half of respondents said that “a motivated and equipped workforce — two essential elements of employee experience and employee engagement — were most critical for their companies to achieve an improved CX (cited by 53 percent of respondents), business agility (50 percent) and digital transformation (49 percent).”
Yet when discussing their top 10 priorities, “these same companies ranked employee engagement, employee experience and employee enablement (via technology) at the bottom of their companies’ top 10 priorities.”
Inspiration is the resource, and fuel, to create and align these experiences.
If you aren’t inspiring your employees, they won’t become your strongest ambassadors and perform to their greatest potential. According to this recent Forbes article, “generating excitement around the brand can come up short if companies ignore their most credible advocates — their own employees. Today, it’s not enough to have satisfied employees — they must be fully connected in order to act on your behalf.”
Change is not going to slow down anytime soon, Bob Dylan’s words are as true today as they were in 1964. Keeping up with, and even more importantly ahead of, the pace of change is how organizations are going to stay competitive and become better, faster and stronger. But they can’t do it without making inspiration and inspiring their people a priority; creating an inspiration strategy is the secret.