One of the most under-appreciated skills that talented transformational leaders possess is the ability to inspire their team daily. Even some of the most challenging and important jobs, like a clinician saving lives or an engineer working on a spaceship can become routine or monotonous. Talented transformational leaders help team members see the importance of their work even when it becomes regular and normal to them.
This phenomenon is known as the “Mundanity effect.” The “Mundanity effect” describes how an activity can begin to feel less exciting or special and instead seem more routine or ordinary. It has been studied in cases like business ethics, emergency rooms, and Olympic athletes, all with negative effects if not addressed.
That is where the leader comes in. Providing daily inspiration can help connect team members reconnect to the exciting parts of their work.
One of the best examples of using daily inspiration in practice is from Ritz-Carlton hotels. Every day, all Ritz-Carlton employees across the world participate in a 10 minute meeting called the “Lineup”. The lineup consists of four agenda items: Review the Ritz-Carlton gold standards, share stories of great guest service, celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, and discuss property specific information. The first two topics are standardized and are usually developed at least one year in advance.
One of the goals of the lineup is to showcase memorable examples of exceptional customer service, a hallmark of the Ritz-Carlton. These include stories like Chris Hurn’s about his son’s favorite stuffed animal, a giraffe named Joshie. Chris’ son accidentally left Joshie behind at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. When the hotel staff found Joshie, they didn’t simply box the stuffed animal up and send it back to Chris’ son. Instead, the Ritz-Carlton ladies and gentlemen (how they refer to their employees) produced a photo book of scenes showing Joshie having an “Extra long vacation,” like hanging out by the pool or driving a golf cart. This story shared an example of incredible customer service and inspired the team to create moments like this one for other guests.
A leader helps to communicate to team members that what they do matters. Leaders show that the work people do every day has meaning, especially for the customer.
The Ritz-Carlton understands the value of daily inspiration to combat the “mundanity effect,” but most organizations to not provide similar resources to leaders. It can be difficult for leaders to find inspiration to share with their teams daily. Luckily, there are variety of resources to help leaders inspire their teams, such as books of inspiration and daily 365 books like the Daily Stoic or the Daily Drucker.
Still, the best sources of inspiration will come from the leader’s and team’s experiences with their customers or with each other. Leaders should continually keep their eyes open for inspiration, collecting customer feedback that can be shared with the larger team. A leader should know their team members well enough to figure out what material will connect them to purpose and seek out relevant examples.
The ability to inspire is an undervalued characteristic of high performing leaders. While it is not intuitive for every leader to find or share inspirational stories, it is a skill that leaders can certainly use more often. Whether it is a customer story or inspiration from a book, leaders should not avoid this responsibility and fall victim to the “mundanity effect.”
Leaders use daily inspirational messages to keep their team members connected to purpose. They can find daily inspiration to share with their teams through a variety of resources like customer stories and books.
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