Motivational Posters

The Road to Success Is Always Uphill read the motivational poster which was proudly displayed on the wall. I was walking the corridors of the downtown office together with a client.

“Do those motivational posters work?” I asked her. Her brief chuckle was a telling response.

I have noticed that ownership is back on the table as a key element to build high-performance organizations.

It’s opposed to a victimhood mindset, which is defined by learned helplessness: The belief that you’re unable to control or change the situation, even when opportunities for change become available.

Building a culture of ownership is not easy. Telling people they need to take more ownership, and putting more motivational posters on the wall is a waste of time. It’s symbolism, not substance.

Any consistent behavior (good or bad) in your organization, is the result of the behaviors of its leaders.

If you see too much victimhood and entitlement, which leadership behaviors support this?

The three main ones are:

  • Excessive heroism: The leader always steps in to solve problems.
  • Winner’s addiction: Leaders see everything as a competition with only winners and losers.
  • Adding too much value: In an effort to help, employee initiatives are ‘improved’ by leaders, thus losing excitement and commitment.

The symbolism of motivational posters will never substitute the substance of new leadership standards.

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