Leadership Lessons from the National Conventions: Never Underestimate the Value of a Good, Old Fashioned Pep Rally

By | September 6, 2012

Have you heard that more people watched the new episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” than the Republican National Convention?  That’s right, while some were wondering whether President Bill Clinton would one-up Michelle Obama, apparently the real battle was between Bubba and Boo Boo.

That might lead some to conclude that the time has passed for big national conventions.

I beg to differ.   Never underestimate the value of a good, old fashioned pep rally.

In high schools across America, pep rallies and bonfires are being held in a time-honored tradition of rallying school spirit for the big football game.  The idea here isn’t to get the Goth kids to love football – it is to rally the base, with the idea that an energized base can draw in the fence-sitters and the ones who sit on the sidelines.

The same is true for organizations.  Too often leaders expend the lion’s share of their energy dealing with the outliers – the proverbial squeaky wheels get the grease.   The complaining team member, the cranky customer, the nosy (and noisy) neighbor to your largest manufacturing facility. And they take the supporters for granted.

The corporate version of the pep rally is the employee town hall meeting.  It’s the time to reenergize the employees who are your best advocates, to excite them about the direction your Company is going, and to arm them with the narrative they need to tell your story effectively in their day-to-day interactions with others.  Yet many companies are eliminating these events due to time or budget constraints, and replacing them with a flurry of e-mail communications.  Now, I’ve received some pretty awesome e-mails.  I’ve even written a few.  But really?  An e-mail?

This week, I was featured in a piece in PRWeek on internal communications that reminded us that the line between internal and external communications has been permanently blurred, or even erased.  Since what you say and do internally will ultimately be as visible externally as your news release and annual report, isn’t it worth the effort of putting on the kind of show that will rally the base?

I think it is. What do you think?

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