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Motivational Speeches Don’t Work | A Q&A with Dave Logan, #LinkageGILD Keynote Speaker

June 3, 2019 Rachael Marangu

Too often, leaders claim credit for the inevitable–or give excuses about why something didn’t happen.

Great leaders do things differently, explains leadership strategist, author, and #LinkageGILD keynote speaker Dave Logan.

This fall, Dave will discuss how we can move from merely accepting the inevitable to creating a different future at Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development® (GILD), on September 16-19, 2019 in Palm Desert, California.

“I’ll be speaking about how leaders can make something happen other than what was going to happen anyway,” said Dave.

We wanted to learn more, so we sat down with Dave for a conversation about how to avoid this–the “default future,” what a minimum viable step toward a new future looks like–and why you need to stop giving motivational speeches.

Let’s talk default future vs. inventive future. How would you differentiate them? How can we identify our default futures and take actionable steps to avoid it?

Dave Logan: A default future says “what’s likely to happen if nothing unexpected comes along.” It’s made up of people’s hopes, fears, concerns, and past experiences. An invented future is what people are committed to making happen, regardless of what comes along. Warren Bennis famously said that 95% of people mostly react to things (so are trapped in a default future), while 5% of people reinvent themselves (focus on an invented future). My work takes that idea and applies to organizational futures.

Tell us about a time when you identified your default future and moved toward an inventive future. What was challenging?

It happened last month! I was wrapping up a long set of trips that took me to Moscow, Minsk, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Tucson. My 10-year-old daughter called and said I had to be home more. At first, I told her why that wasn’t possible (so, I restated my “default future”). She gave me that look that said she wasn’t buying it. I committed to being home, and then called three people to cancel meetings to move to my “invented future” of being there with my family more in the next few weeks. It’s a small thing, but our default futures trap us, and we don’t see it. It often takes another person—a leader, like my daughter—to show us that we have more choice than we thought.

You suggest that taking minimum viable steps (MVS) will help us move toward the inventive future. What does this look like?

It’s the smallest possible action that shows us and others that we are moving toward the invented future and away from the default future. In my case this week, it was canceling a dinner meeting and flying home a night early.

Last year at GILD, you told us that strictly motivational leadership is short-lived when it comes to creating lasting results. Why is that?

Motivation moves around a lot based on short-term influencers–like whether you’ve slept enough or feel overly stressed. Inspiration, on the other hand, provides longer-lasting impact. A lot of my work has focused on leaders who are tired and not motivated–but find renewed energy from their inspiration toward a vision.

Let’s talk about engagement. How can leaders effectively drive engagement?

Engagement is full participation—intellectual, emotional and physical—based on commitment. When people become invested in an invented future, their engagement goes up automatically. They don’t need to be bothered to remember it.

Why are you looking forward to this year’s Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD)?

GILD is unique in that it brings together leaders and intact teams, so it’s a great opportunity to share big ideas from the stage and then work with teams on a more personal level.

What’s your advice for leaders who are preparing to join us on site in Palm Desert, CA at GILD?

Go all in. Make sure people in your life know you’ll be off the treadmill for a few ideas to make yourself a stronger leader for them. And, go out of your way to meet people you don’t know. GILD creates a very strong community where everyone is eager to meet you.

Describe a truly Purposeful leader.

This could take days to describe, but the short answer is: A Purposeful Leader is someone who is fully there, living out a vision, and makes people around them smarter and more effective.

See Dave in person and take the next step in your leadership journey at Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development® (GILD) in Palm Desert, CA on September 16-19, 2019. Customize your experience through the “Leading Across Difference” Learning Track, designed to empower leaders with the unique skill-set they need to manage effectively across generational, ethnic, racial, gender, or other identity lines.

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