How to Create a Winning Culture of Engagement

I love the Olympics. I love that Olympic athletes have been toiling away in relative obscurity for much of their lives, training for the ultimate moment. I love seeing them finally get their recognition when their amazing talents are brought into the light for the world to see.

For Olympic athletes, the quest has never been about money, as most of them never see a dime from their sport. Their drive is simply wanting to be the BEST. And I completely get it.

I’ve been an amateur athlete my entire life, most recently in an ultra-endurance team sport called Adventure Racing. In Adventure Racing, we never won more money than it took to cover our plane ticket to the race. But over 17 years, my teammates and I completed in more than 40 of these 6-10 day, non-stop, multi-stage, gruel-o-Ramas.

As you can imagine, the question I’m asked most often when I speak to corporate clients about the teamwork and leadership skills we learned from adventure racing is: WHY? (Or really, “Why the hell?”).

And the answer is the same as Olympic athletes—Because we were INSPIRED to be GREAT. To be the best in the world at something. To cross the finish line WITH and FOR each other.

We have similar challenges in the corporate world. We’re always trying to find ways to motivate our employees to greatness. But what if we could tap into the employee’s internal INSPIRATION instead of relying on external motivation? We often talk about compensation plans….but what about inspiration plans? Download PDF

Part 1 – The Pay Paradox and THREE Important Ways We Can INSPIRE Our Team Members:

Yes, we all need and love money. But for consistent peak performance, money can’t be the sole driving force. You’ve probably noticed that simply throwing more money and bonuses at people can be a short-term motivator, but not a long-term driver of performance or results. In other words, increased pay is not completely correlated with increased performance.

As leaders, we have to tap into our team members’ “WHY.” That’s the most powerful and consistent driver of people’s action. What inspires each member of your team to come to work and be great every day?

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Part 2 – Prepare the Path Forward & Create a Culture of Coaching:

Part of what inspired us as kids in school, athletics, art, music, or whatever our chosen endeavor, was the drive to get to “the next level.”

Most of us will recall someone special in our lives who believed in us growing up, someone who saw our latent skills and talents, and who helped us achieve success to the best of our abilities. In the corporate world, leaders are often reticent to play coach and mentor, believing that, as adults, we don’t really need that kind of inspiration. But we do.

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