People are hungry for something and someone to believe in.
Having spent many years living in the US, I have been watching the developing political contest between the major presidential candidates with great interest, especially the growing lead by Barack Obama.
After eight years of the fear-based politics of the current Washington administration, it is no surprise that people are responding to Obama’s empowering message of “yes WE can.” People are hungry for something and someone to believe in.
There is a lesson to be learned from Obama’s rising fortunes for organisations and leaders. It is not enough to just spell out the same old flat vision and expect it will inspire. It is not enough to expect that your people will come to work and give their all just because you pay them. Like the people of the US, the people who work with and for you are hungry for something to believe in.
Obama is being criticised for his oratory – that it is all air and no substance. Now I am the first one to say that you have to back up what you say with actions, but in this case the critics are missing the point. When people feel disenfranchised, great oratory is the starting point, a way to bring people together again. Obama doesn’t talk AT his audience; he brings them along with him and draws them into the picture his words paint, and that is a crucial distinction.
When was the last time you gathered your people around you and talked to them about what you believe in; gave them your thoughts on where the organisation is going; invited them to be part of that future; shared with them how important they are to getting there?
No one expects every person to be able to unleash the type of soaring language that Obama employs (or for that matter any of the great orators of history), but the fact is that from our earliest days on earth, talking with one another was the way we stayed connected; you could say we are hard-wired to respond to the spoken word.
So step away from the keyboard of your computer, put down your pen, gather your people around and talk WITH them about what you care about. You never know, you might end up with a movement not just a workplace!
Listen to Barack Obama and see for yourself what the buzz is about.
For inspiration here are some links to other great speeches from times past:
Martin Luther King – “I have a dream”
John F Kennedy – “Ask not what your country can do…”
Winston Churchill – “We shall never surrender”
See you next week.
Michel Hogan is an independent consultant and practising brand heretic, who firmly believes that success for organisations starts on the inside with alignment between beliefs and actions, a passion she explores daily in her work here with Brandology and in the United States with the Brand Alignment Group .For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.
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