*** Editor's note: To read the first part of this article, click here.
In Part I, we defined the term “leader” and discussed the potential impact of having many leaders. We also looked at whether leadership is an inherited trait or learned skill. And, we discussed how to create the vision to inspire leadership. We talked about the difference between someone who sees his/her role as menial and insignificant (e.g., the stone cutter mentality) versus someone who sees his/her role as integral within the context of a greater goal (e.g., the cathedral builder mindset). In Part II, we look into how we can inspire individuals to higher levels of commitment and performance.
FINDING THE INSPIRATION
We humans love quests. We love a challenge. Few things can be quite so boring as having to perform seemingly pointless tasks. Dostoyevsky once wrote, “To destroy a human being, give his work the character of uselessness.” But what is a pointless task, anyway? Simply stated, it’s anything that seems neither to achieve nor contribute to something of meaning or significance.
Certainly a person charged with sweeping the shop floor on an ongoing basis might well see his or her responsibility as fairly trivial. But, when seen through cathedral builder eyes, the task is quite different. Without clean floors, shop workers could easily slip and fall. So, sweeping the floor helps to protect the safety of the company’s skilled manufacturing workforce. When shop workers are injured, the company is faced with either having to (a) replace those workers with potentially more expensive temporary workers—who are less familiar with the process—or (b) try to complete the work with fewer workers…which means either overtime (and additional costs, fatigue, and—potentially—quality issues) or rushing through the process (which increases the likelihood of additional injuries and/or quality issues).
So, if sweeping the floor is done properly, then the company is able to protect the safety of its workforce and keep the quality of its manufacturing high. This, in turn, helps to protect its competitive position in the marketplace. In addition, the company is able to keep up its manufacturing output, thus meeting customer demand and keeping sales and revenue numbers up. Finally, by avoiding preventable medical bills, the company is able to keep costs down and better contribute to profitability.