In 1990, David Harder was a successful executive in the staffing industry. Based in Los Angeles, his clients included four of the top six film studios, six of the top ten advertising agencies and iconic institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Trust.
From his vantage point it became clear that most of us were conditioned to define our work by a model that was beginning to crumble. It was called the Industrial Revolution, an all-consuming three-hundred year event that conditioned the vast majority of us to pursue two primary standards about work:
Predictability and survival.
By centering our attention on these two outcomes, we dismissed the very standards that create satisfaction, joy and purpose. We often forgot that given the right circumstances, all of us have the ability to change.
- If we had been settling for these two standards, what would happen if we raised all of our standards in how we work and live?
- If we are spending most of our waking hours getting ready for, getting to, being at and recovering from work, isn’t it the biggest relationship that we have?
- What would happen if we could show people how transform their entire relationship towards work?
- Taking that a concept a step further, what would happen if we gave them the tools to success in that relationship in a fully personalized way?
The answers to these questions led to defining a set of life skills and a model that would lead anyone who worked into a greater, more satisfying and more successful relationship with their work.
Armed with these insights, David Harder produced a Socratic curriculum that allows us to define key aspects of the relationship. The results of the first two-day program were watershed. Thirty-six participants assembled in a hotel in Santa Monica. They came from diverse backgrounds, generations and professional designations. When it was finished, every single participant described what had happened as a “turning point;” an experience that changed how they viewed work and their overall accomplishments.
The Inspired Work Program is a unique experience.
By combining such a new view of our relationship towards work and giving participants the exercises that personalize the details, it is used for career and personal development, employee engagement and leadership advances.
Our graduates asked for more.
In 2001, Disney Consumer Products asked David Harder to design a new leadership curriculum. In a world where old notions of work were crumbling, the old leadership method of dictating performance had become thoroughly ineffective. Leaders, in order to lead, had to find a way to access the needs and expectations of their stakeholders and to motivate them by helping them fulfill those expectations. While that may sound simple, the outcome is revolutionary.
At the time, many leadership programs included 360 interviews conducted by consultants. Inspired Leadership also designs customized 360 interviews but the executive participants conduct the interviews. This common-sense approach provides an immersive learning experience in asking the questions that matter and in learning how to use that feedback in positive and effective ways.
Another turning occurred when a leading university started using The Inspired Work Program to generate employee engagement within its intact teams. Other organizations followed suit. Within the employee engagement field, surveys alone only make management feel more inadequate. Building better leaders is certainly a key with improving engagement. But there is a bigger problem.
In David Harder’s new book The Great Disengagement he tells us,
“The reason so many employers have failed employee engagement initiatives is that employees are overwhelmed by change. Alvin Toffler characterized it as ‘a state of future shock.’ Until we show workers how to change and reinvent themselves, they will continue going through the motions.”
The Inspired Work Program offers the kind of personal transformation that brings immediate change to intact teams and each individual’s relationship towards work. The ability to change is demonstrated in the most practical way possible by producing watershed changes and improvements with our colleagues and ourselves.
Today, Inspired Work is at the center of a world community filled with graduates that continue to use what they learned and express the positive changes in their lives.
Ours is a community built upon good will and gratitude.