What inspires you?

This should not have been so hard to figure out but, one thing I know for sure after working with leaders and work teams for over 25 years is that we are all different! What inspires one member of your team may irritate another. What motivates you to embrace a change may cause someone else to put their head down and “just wait it out.” Innovation_Inspiration_600_400_70_c1_center_center_0_0_1In fact, a 2009 article by Scott Keller and Carolyn Aiken, The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management, identifies five different messages, each one that motivates or inspires a separate group of people at work. The five messages differ based on how they focus on one of the following impacts – Impact on:

  1. Society
  2. Our customers or students
  3. Our institution
  4. Our work team
  5. “Me”, the person

People are about equally divided between the five separate motivational impacts. Thus, when you articulate a vision of a future state based on what you find compelling or motivating you are probably missing what is important to about 80% of the people on your team!

The authors recommend the following strategies to help you, as a leader, create a compelling vision of the future:

  • Include each of the five core motivational messages in your vision.
    1. Society
    2. Our customers or students
    3. Our institution
    4. Our work team
    5. “Me”, the person
  • Invite your people to write their own vision or story of the future – and spend time listening to them share it!
    1. People are more committed when they can choose their own motivation
    2. People value being listened to and understood


  • Include both the solutions to problems and the new opportunities in your vision statement.
    1. Problems help create action but create fatigue over time
    2. Opportunities help sustain change but on their own may not promote transformational ideas

Broadening your view of the change horizon and asking others what they see in the future will help you articulate a vision for the future that is more compelling and engages more of your people.

Todd Thorsgaard


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