Money can’t always buy success, despite popular beliefs to the contrary. People reach goals but sometimes this is as hit-and-miss as a soccer team that keeps failing to find the way to the net.
Money does not make Olympic Games, or any other major events come to think of it. Of course, money is needed to organize and finance the proceedings, but it is the people – paid staff and volunteers – who decide the success or failure of the event. Money may be a motivation, but never an inspiration. It does not make anything come alive. It does not smile and it does not give you goose bumps.
I went to the test events for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi in December 2012 and February 2013 and what is happening there is unbelievable.
The area surrounding Krasnaya Polyana is Europe’s largest construction site. There are rumors that suggest next year’s Games will cost about 50 billion euros and I could well imagine this to be true.
Yetthe success of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, or that of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, relates only in part to the financial investment made to fund the sporting infrastructure. In the end, it always boils down to the people involved - from top managers to those at the lower end of the command structure. They are basically responsible for the success of such large-scale events.
This is my personal opinion and it might sound a bit non-conformist, but I do not like the fact that only the number of qualifications held by an individual and their skills count in today’s working world.
Let us be honest, at least a dozen applicants for any job could easily fit the bill purely on those terms. The lucky one who survives the application process and gets picked is usually no better or worse than those who were rejected at the final stage. However, questions relating to the commitment, motivation and inspiration of applicants are rare or even non-existent. This is surprising because those values seem to be the pivotal factors when it comes to whether a task has been done well or exceptionally well, whether it is by merely following the rules or done with an element of passion. Only those who enjoy committing themselves, who feel honored to work for a specific organization and always have a smile on their face will be successful and create further success.
Volunteers, such as Gregory, Maria, Lena, Olga, Masha, Victoria and Marina will become the face of the 2014 Winter Olympics. All of those volunteers who will usher spectators to their seats, support photographers and drive VIPs around in the middle of the night……and always with a smile on their faces. All those young people who are motivated by the joy of simply being part of something special and not by the money and career opportunities a paid position might bring. They have to be inspired. They must know that what they are doing is precious and priceless, both for the event and for themselves. They need to know that it will be almost impossible for them to experience the highs and lows they will experience and feel over the precious few weeks of the Games again later in their lives.
However, if you want to motivate and inspire others, you must also be inspired and motivated yourself. Yet, what happens along the entire command chain is usually something else: asking for facts and figures, delegating tasks, reminding people of deadlines, maybe a bit of praise at the Christmas party. That’s it. It seems one of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s quotes is a well-kept secret: “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”.
Good leaders who cannot inspire others are not great leaders. They will definitely achieve their goals, but their names won’t be remembered by others who travel the seas. Worse, they will not contribute to the development of others.
As I said before, you do not have to share my point of view. However, you could contemplate whether it suffices to think big and put it into practice or whether this is only the start of a path to something much, much bigger: namely, to make the world a better place to work and be in every single day.
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