I’m excited to be presenting at TEDxEQChCh this weekend. The Garden City has been through so much in recent years, and the Canterbury community certainly epitomes the Kiwi resilience I mentioned in last weeks blog. Goal setting, building communities and getting through difficult times, to me, is about creating ‘tribes’ – groups of people brought together with a common purpose, and driven to make forward progress.

So how do you build a tribe that is ready for anything? How do you align a culture, and how do you gain momentum for moving forward to achieving a common goal? How do you maintain momentum in adversity, whether it’s from our choosing or forced upon us?

Be clear about your vision and purpose, and turn it into an engaging story.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” proved true for Alice in Wonderland and it is true for building a tribe.

The Big Walk campaign developed from a teenager telling me he had no aspirations for his future. A vision to inspire our young people was born. The very real purpose of making a difference to New Zealand’s youth, and to our society as whole, made it easier to get buy in from stakeholders, including sponsors, CEOs, MPs and the youth themselves.

Find out what makes people tick. What are their motives?

Traditionally in business, and to be honest in schooling and parenting, if you reward something you get more of the same behaviour, and if you punish you get less of the same behaviour.

In my work with the Rugby World Cup an important consideration was managing the attrition of volunteers. We needed to know why they were there, what inspired them, and then find ways to keep them motivated. So why did they want to step up and offer their free time? The range of reasons included representing their region, for the love of rugby, CV experience, to joining your rugby mad husband.

Regardless of the situation, you might be surprised to know that financial rewards only get you so far. Think of your own job. Do you go to work simply for the pay packet? Do you work harder knowing there is a potential bonus at the end? Perhaps so, but this is not necessarily making you any better at your job. For simple, straightforward tasks, the carrot and stick motivation keeps the person tracking along in a linear fashion. Other than the financial reward at the end, they may have no real buy in to the goal or their contribution to it.

So what about the ‘out of the box’ tasks? The ones that are complicated, requiring conceptual, creative and innovative thinking?

Well known career analyst, Dan Pink, suggests three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction:

– Autonomy. The desire to be self-directed. Management is great if you want compliance but if you want engagement, self-direction is better. Get out of their way.

– Mastery. The urge to get better at things. Everybody wants to be good at something. Give them the opportunity to give things a go, learn and grow. Becoming skilled in a new area is individually rewarding and satisfying.

– Purpose. Making a contribution. Organisations that flourish are animated by purpose. Their tribe members know why they are there, what the aim is, and how their individual contribution makes a difference.

Make it easy for followers to connect with you.

I truly believe that performance is done through people. Make it easy for others to join the tribe and it will become a win-win situation. Not only will they help you achieve your goals, they recharge, inspire and help you to grow. Because they are passionate, they are willing to lend a hand and will celebrate alongside you.

A common goal or vision needs to be at the heart of your tribe. But it’s not just about the shared interest, it is how the tribe supports others. Connect people in your own network first; give them access to the information and resources they need, and encourage them to share through their own channels.

Make it easy for followers to connect with each other.

Tribe members need to be able to drive each other and explore the real extent of their talents. Through a combined effort they have the power to create something much greater than any of them could have created individually. Opportunities for open collaboration and two-way communication facilitates ways to kick ideas around. Respecting and validating each other’s ideas, giving back to the tribe and offering others support, brings about real opportunity for change.

With the RWC project we provided guidance, structure and training. But with a team of 7000 it was at the grassroots level that the momentum had to happen. The volunteers needed to understand the vision and act on it. Engagement with other volunteers often made this the reality.

Realise that money is not an incentive for everyone.

Fact, money is a motivator, but we need to remember it is not the only incentive. Pay people enough to remove it from the equation. By treating people like people and engaging them in the story, we can build a tribe that makes not only them better, but perhaps the world a little bit better too.

Track progress, and shout success from the rooftops!

Collect stories to find out what is working and what isn’t. What is it you want to hear? The more often you can share examples of progress, the more likely you’ll reach your goal faster.

At TEDxEQChch I’m looking forward to hearing Sam Johnson talk. The Student Volunteer Army is an amazing tribe, driven by a willingness to help those most affected by the devastating Christchurch earthquakes. Student volunteers used their social media networks to rally together very quickly. But it was through story telling that the momentum gathered sponsorship, corporate support and media attention. What they achieved is truly remarkable, not only in the terms of helping their city but creating perception change of students as ‘debt ridden couch burners’ to respected community members. While keeping themselves accountable, the whole country, and in fact international audiences, knew of the Army and the difference they made.

So how do you maintain momentum in adversity, whether it is from your choosing or forced upon us? In business, a crisis situation, or the adventure of your life – what tribes do you belong to and why?

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