Enthusiasm is not Engagement

05 May
by Bridget DiCello

If your team members are nodding their heads as you speak, and appear to clearly understand what you are saying with their response, “Yes, I understand,” you are very possibly on the road to doing it all yourself.

If you want to get someone to engage, which typically means that they are taking initiative, getting things done, coming up with ideas and playing a key role in reaching goals, you must get them talking and taking action.

There is a definite difference between enthusiasm and engagement. Enthusiasm can be displayed nonverbally, and with words of little substance – and can be a great trait to display at many times in the workplace. However, enthusiasm often includes you speaking and being the center of attention in order to share that excitement and movement and on its own does not get anything done.

Get them to talk. People think, engage and learn when they are talking, not when you ‘explain it again.’ As a leader, you may feel you need to have all the answers and come into a conversation prepared to address a team member’s challenges and objections. When really, what you need to walk into the conversation with is:

1. a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve, coupled with your expertise and experience

2. a strong desire to understand their view of the situation

3. a genuine interest in determining where the holes are in their picture, and

4. a determination to get them talking about the situation to hear their fears, beliefs and planned approach.

Get them to act. Often the first step is the hardest to determine and to take. When you think someone knows what to do, and how to get started, take a moment to test their understanding in a supportive way. You may ask, “What is the first step? What do you think will be the most difficult part? When will you have that first step done?” Then, schedule a time to check in on progress. A definite deadline for the first step will ensure the ball gets rolling, and once it does, it often easier to keep rolling, especially with your assistance as necessary and accountability to agreed upon actions.

Be enthusiastic! And be determined to drive real engagement with the way you engage your team members in conversation where they are thinking, talkingn getting prepared to act and taking action.


Failure-Triggered Enthusiasm

05 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

“Success is about moving through failure, not avoiding it.”

As you end the calendar year, whether it’s the end of a fiscal year or fiscal quarter for you, it is a good time to take a look at what you have achieved both personally and professionally, where you’ve fallen short and what’s next. There is much wisdom to be gained from the areas where you feel you’ve failed.  And if you can move quickly from who caused the failure to how or what to do differently, there is much enthusiasm that can be created by what you didn’t get to this year, what you can and will do next year, and what challenge is not going to get the best of you!

Failure can be defined as:

  • Results are not what you expected or hoped for.
  • Nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.
  • Subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency.
  • Deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength.

 “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen

Results are not what you expected or hoped for.

When you identified the results you expected, were they realistic?

Was a plan for implementation created?

Were the right people in place?

What progress did you make? Where have you taken some “practice shots” and gotten better?

Were you able to move through some mid-year failures and tweak your plan?

“Failure is when you don’t learn from a mistake, and continue to repeat that mistake. Life is full of practice shots.”

Nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.

Did you focus on doing what you planned to do?

Were accountability measures in place?

Did regular communication enable people to work together to accomplish the plan?

Did you celebrate success too early and fail to follow-up to ensure continued success?

Success is never final; failure is never fatal” – John Wooden

Subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency.

Were the people capable of doing the work?

Did you prepare you and your team sufficiently to do something new, different or innovative?

Did you clearly understand the quality standards expected by your stakeholders?

 “A stumble may prevent a fall.” – Proverb

Deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength.

Were you excited about the plan?

Was it just brief excitement, or did you have the full buy-in of the team?

Did something internal or external change that prevented you from executing the plan and you never changed?

Is your culture one of blaming others instead of troubleshooting stumbles?

Did you give up?

A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.” – Elmer G. Letterman

I can do that better next year!

Start by making a list of your successes and celebrating those. Then, make the list of what you didn’t accomplish, pinpoint what you learned, identify why those goals were important to you in the first place, and test if they are still important (even if they are difficult). Then, let the failures push you forward!

Enthusiasm is an incredible driver of success, and is much more than excitement. It is the inner drive to make a difference, to accomplish great things, to contribute to a vision, and to do what you value and you see as important. Too often we simply follow others’ goals, accept what others say is important and accept the mediocrity that is acceptable to many people.

What is important to YOU? What energizes you? What do you love about your job? How did you feel when you started your job? Who do you need to stop blaming for your unwillingness to think big, and start acknowledging that enthusiasm that would bubble up if you didn’t let the world knock you down?