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Pep talks as easy as 1,2,3

4th September 2017

I was immediately attracted to the header in the Harvard Business Review: Managing Yourself – “The Science of Pep Talks”, by Daniel McGinn. In good old Glasgow parlance I wondered if this was an erudite variation of the pithy “away and have a word with yourself”. However, I found out that this is about what it takes to have real impact on others and it is, according to the author, backed by research and as easy as 1,2, 3.

His major example is about the impact of a sales director on a significantly large sales force. Reading about the 3 key aspects of any pep talk made me think that in fact the 3 key aspects provide a very good definition of the key elements of being an effective leader. So, the easy as one two three elements are:

  1. Direction giving
  2. Expressions of empathy
  3. Providing meaning

In which measure and in what order you use these is of course the art of leadership and that is always a work in progress. So here are the nuggets of understanding for each of the 3 elements:

Direction giving should concentrate on reducing uncertainty, providing clarity on what is to be done and how achievement or performance will be gauged.

Expressions of empathy are about giving praise, encouragement, gratitude and acknowledgement of difficult circumstances.

Providing meaning is about relating how this work, task or project makes a difference to customers, colleagues and/or the business. Providing meaning works best when stories of existing examples are used rather than pumped up statements.

I’ll use these three elements in my work with leaders from now on, particularly when considering goal setting and what more can be done to raise levels of engagement and motivation in the people.

Once more into the breach!





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