Is Inspiration Deficit Disorder Crippling Your Organization?

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Yesterday, an HR professional who has worked in many organizations said something really sad.

It was in response to me asking her what the really evolved leaders she knows are most concerned about these days, related to their employees. When I say “evolved,” I mean leaders who are not just great at “driving business results,” but who also clearly care about their people, and whose words and actions inspire.

She said: “You know … I’ve never worked for anyone that fits that description. … It’s like when I read in Fast Company about some really cool leader. I think, boy, wouldn’t that be nice to work for someone like that.”

Her observation reminded me of the “IDD problem” I’ve seen in so many organizations and heard about from countless employees.

Inspiration Deficit Disorder

You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Unless you’ve lived a very charmed life, you’ve worked in more than one place where managers all the way up to the senior leadership team are “all business” and often “all about me and my goals.”

  • There’s no passion.
  • There’s no heart.
  • There’s no feeling of “We’re part of something great and we’re doing something great.”
  • And you can feel the life being sucked out of you.

You’ve worked in places where you see wooden faces, places where employees trudge through the day, drones in a big corporate bee hive.

Because IDD is rampant in these organizations, because there’s no inspiration, no enthusiasm or humanity, you feel as if you’re in the land of Zombies.

Does your leadership team suffer from IDD?

As I reflected on this HR pro’s observation, I found myself thinking of the president of an organization that is going through major changes, who is unable to inspire confidence and a “Bring It On!” spirit in his people. Because of this, employees are frightened and rudderless. Negativity and blaming abound.

I thought about another company where the former president, who was very inspiring and took great interest in growing his leaders, left and was replaced by “a number’s guy.” Under the new leader, the management team no longer has the passion, enthusiasm and sense of purpose they had before. Work is no longer filled with possibility and potential.

It’s less human. It’s more grinding it out.

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Whether this is a global issue in your organization or you have pockets of IDD, you REALLY need to do something about it.

The impact of IDD on your workforce

Because if you do have IDD, you are getting:

  1. Only a fraction of the creative and productive potential from your employees.
  2. Nowhere near the level of passionate, compassionate, inspired customer service your business needs to deliver.
  3. Nowhere near the level of cooperation and teamwork you could enjoy

With IDD, you are also vulnerable to having your people react with fear, overwhelm, and resistance to the major challenges that will undoubtedly arise … just like the employees mentioned above.

Your ability to foster what Southwest Airlines calls a Warrior Spirit, and what I call a “Bring it on!” attitude, is directly related to your leadership team’s IQ — its Inspiration Quotient.

The first step to boosting your organizational Inspiration Quotient is to honestly acknowledge the presence of IDD, and then committing to doing something about it.

In future posts, we’ll explore how.

Stay tuned.

David Lee is the founder and principal of HumanNature@work and the creator of Stories That Change. He's an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance, morale, and engagement. He is also the author of "Managing Employee Stress and Safety," as well over 100 articles and book chapters. You can download more of his articles at HumanNature@work, contact him at, or follow him on Twitter at


1 Comment on “Is Inspiration Deficit Disorder Crippling Your Organization?

  1. “The first step to boosting your organizational Inspiration Quotient is to honestly acknowledge the presence of IDD, and then committing to doing something about it.

    In future posts, we’ll explore how.”

    Are future posts coming?

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