February 10


The Vision Thing – Motivating Others

Vision 2There is an oft-quoted parable used to illustrate how vision translates down to the team. It centers around three stonemasons working at a job site who are asked what they are doing by a visitor. The first one, sweat pouring from his brow, grumpily replies that he is “cutting stone.” The second stonemason sighs, and says “I am building a parapet.” The third stonemason beams a radiant smile and exclaims, “We are building a beautiful cathedral to glorify God for centuries to come!”

Besides giving a fairly accurate summary of how the team’s vision has taken hold in those tasked with executing it, this example may also speak to the role of the foreman at this job site.  Motivating your team is not just about halftime speeches, but about making sure that every member understands the importance of their contribution and how it fits into the bigger picture.Vision 1

In the most general sense, motivation sometimes means identifying those who simply want to know the “what” and get them to understand the “why”.  Our stonemason’s have a real lack of consensus on that.  The first one knows only what he is focused on and perhaps how tired he is.  The second has an idea how this day’s project may fit together, while the third works with the end product firmly in mind, providing all the motivation he needs.

Simplistic?  Perhaps. Inspiring and motivating people is a multi-million dollar industry. There exists a multitude of associations dedicated to this art, and every current or former professional coach or manager believes they have a potential goldmine of written and spoken wisdom on the subject.

As a leader, the motivation and inspiration of your team is a daily event that will never be over until you leave the team. The ability (or position) to provide both of those qualities is not limited to you either.  Getting your team to inspire and motivate themselves is moving towards Level 5 on the Leadership Hierarchy of Needs. It is up to you to find the right moments.Vision 3

I started this post with a comment on vision, to illustrate the connection between understanding it, and your ability to motivate others to see it. As has been said many times on these pages and elsewhere, your ability as a leader to generate a vision for people to understand where you are going, and then explain, motivate, and inspire people in the direction of that vision will directly translate into the ultimate success of your organization.

So, as you take your leadership walk every day, check on that vision thing.  And if you find a stonemason grumbling over a piece of stone, be prepared to draw a picture of your cathedral. Santiago_de_Compostela_Catedral_Noche