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When Leadership Shouldn't Give a Motivational Speech

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

motivational guest speaker

I was a retail associate to help pay the bills when I was in college. One day we had a motivational guest speaker come in to fire up the troops; he was the organization's District Manager. People trumpeted his praise for weeks before and after his visit.

I was thinking big deal you're a district manager, so what? He wasn't an inspirational speaker, his motivational speech was mediocre at best. During his visit he would walk head down briskly through the store and hide in the back room. All I ever saw was the back of head.

We were to be on our best behavior while he was visiting. All frills were suspended, no bathroom breaks, no chit chat, smiles plastered on our faces were mandatory, and the store had to be spotless.

After this leadership guru left we could go back to normal, slack off even. It was the ultimate fake out and it was all just for his benefit. I think about it now and realize what an unfortunate precedent this set, teaching us mindless games to fake out misfit managers.

Relating well to people is not always a natural part of someone's leadership skill set. This guy is a perfect example. What leadership should do is treat everyone on the team as equally important, because they are interdependent. 

Upper level leadership should not be admired from afar; instead their job is to bolster self esteem and confidence for all team members at every opportunity.  When an environment is created that pays attention to people, commitment levels soar.

Too many leaders try to project an image of strength and distance.

Leadership should let people know what excites them - and what scares them. The more authentic the leader, the deeper the trust.

As a leader, never act differently around different people. Treat everyone equally.

This 'motivational guest speaker' shouldn't have been treated as a guest at all to our store. He works for the company, it's his job to motivate us. His insincere motivational speech did more harm than good. 

See tips to hire a motivational guest speaker

Before leadership launches into a motivational speech, you may want to hold your tongue.

Tags: leadership, motivational guest speaker, motivational speech

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