But when external forces threaten our own morale and livelihoods in addition to those of our teams and corporate cultures, it can be an especially daunting task to inspire and unite with grace. The first step, then, must necessarily be to ensure that we are operating as a fulfilled human beings first and as leaders second — the old saw about “putting your oxygen mask on first,” has never been truer.

In a recent NationSwell Institutional Member roundtable event, members convened to share practical advice on how to strengthen morale and build a robust culture of inspiration within our teams and beyond. They discussed the steps they’re taking to manage their time amid previously unthinkable distractions, what they’re reading, and how they keep their teams inspired and aligned, even in the face of daunting social challenges.

Here are some of the key learnings and takeaways from the event.

A fixed feedback ratio makes a real difference.

When deployed successfully, using a ‘5-to-1 ratio’ when providing feedback to team members — making sure that there are 5 positive call-outs for every one negative piece of feedback — can help keep team members receptive to negative or constructive feedback, if it ever arises.

Embrace the ‘fourth prong’ of inspiration.

While many thought leaders agree that a sense of growth or purpose, the ability to learn, and personal autonomy are key components of the framework that motivates humans as a species, a fourth prong — sense of identity and belonging — can be just as instrumental in helping to keep team members inspired.

Hybrid connections necessitate increased intentionality.
As we navigate the changing work landscape that Covid-19 has created, we need to be mindful and intentional about designing experiences going forward. In creating hybrid connections, it’s important to think about what makes it useful for people to come into an office, and what kinds of activities actually foster a sense of belonging.

Leaders must bear the burden of risk.

As we grow professionally, leadership is laced with risk — we have to be prepared to bear the burden of those risks for those we lead and those within our sphere of influence.

The ‘progress principle’ unlocks your workers’ best.

Employees are most motivated when they have a manager who works with them to evaluate their goals and keep tabs on their progress.

Utilize a “go-with-the-flow” mentality.

Trust that all the pieces fall into place if they’re meant to, and revitalize teams by moving on quickly when something out of your control isn’t working.

52 small celebrations a year

Making space for weekly wins is a simple but valuable tool to help support and encourage.

NationSwell’s Institutional Membership program is built for leading corporations, philanthropies, and investment firms, designed to help leaders take their work in CSR, ESG, DEI, Impact Investing, Sustainability, and Philanthropy to the next level. Learn more about NationSwell’s Institutional Membership community here.