Apathetic people are normally difficult to be around. Really, who wants to be around someone with little purpose or energy for life, the proverbial wet noodle. When participating in meetings they rarely have anything positive to say. Their focus is usually on the negative side. Instead of taking the opportunity to contribute in a positive manner, they often destroy others’ enthusiasm. I try to avoid such people whenever possible. They drag me down, and suck the life out of me. Too much time around them leaves me drained and frustrated.
Have you noticed that apathetic business owners or managers tend to have apathetic employees and apathetic organizations? What are the symptoms of an apathy problem in an organization? Perhaps we might start with poor customer service, absenteeism, turnover, poor performance, no creativity/initiative, poor morale, and even employee theft.
Check it out! Look up the word “inspire” in your dictionaries. What did you find? The archaic meaning given for the word inspire in my dictionary is “to breath in to”. Whew! Inspiration may then be defined as giving a BREATH OF LIFE to those in need around us. (Consider that the root of apathy is “no feelings” and this could be a really inspired antidote. Yes, pun intended!)
Here’s a question for my MBA Organizational Behavior students. Where is the need for “breath” located on Maslow’s heirarchy of needs? It shows up at the very lowest level (relating to high need). BREATHING LIFE INTO is an extremely important weapon in your connection arsenal. If employees do not receive life-giving breath in their minds and hearts, life will be drained out of them, and they will cease to care and become apathetic. One might conclude that apathy brings death and inspiration brings life to an organization.
How does inspiration work? Here are some ideas business owners/managers might consider adding to their leadership skills…
- Inspiration is a pro-active behavior on your part. It doesn’t happen until you come along side others and insert yourself into their lives. It’s your way of showing employees that relationship is important to you and you will set aside time to be with them and listen to their thoughts, ideas and concerns.
- Inspiration means freeing and challenging employees to surpass themselves.
- Inspiration means moving forward. Actions speak louder than words. When you have a purpose in your life it inspires others. You become an important role model, or a guiding light, to your employees.
- Inspiration is positive and kind. You speak well of others instead of in a negative manner. You don’t complain when things aren’t perfect. Your words bring life-giving hope instead of energy-draining discouragement.
- Inspiration is the truth. You tell the truth. It is never inspiring to say something is wonderful when all the people around know it’s not. Positive comments based on fluff is never inspiring. Employees won’t trust business owners/managers unless they are authentic about the situation.
If your organization is limping instead of running smoothly, apathy may very well be the issue you need to address. Being an inspiring owner/ manager is not easy; it demands time and practice. Yes, an executive’s life is not easy. But, as Bill Gates says, “Life is hard, get over it.” I challenge you to be pro-active, freeing, purposeful, positive and authentic in the way you go about leading your organization this next week.
Make a difference; it’s an important step towards greatness. Contact us if you’d like a conversation about inspiration and employee motivation, or consider joining one of our pods.