Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

Leaders are change agents – they are expected to drive productive change that improves results.  There are always processes to be improved and problems to be solved. And since their people are busy doing their jobs, leaders require an investment of additional time and energy from their team to pursue change. This is a commitment that cannot be compelled; it’s an investment of discretionary initiative that can only be inspired.

Inspiration is more about heart than head. It leverages meaningfulness and how deeply individuals believe that they can make a difference.  Contributing to a change initiative enables team members to increase the impact of their work, while elevating their visibility and sense of self-worth.

Leaders seeking to inspire initiative within their teams – to unleash untapped innovation, creativity, and risk-taking – must first help their teams connect with this aspiration for meaningfulness.  Discussing the following questions can generate the emotional links that clarify purpose and enable inspiration:

  • Why does our company (or team) exist?  How do we make a difference for our customers (or our company)?
  • Why is this important?  What would happen if we no longer existed?
  • Why do we choose to invest our talents and creative energies in our organization (or team)?
The ability to inspire initiative is a critical competency for leaders seeking to drive change. Before asking their teams to invest discretionary effort, leaders must invest time to help their people discover how each of them can make a difference for their company or team.

How are you inspiring initiative?
How does your team make a difference?