Make Inspiration Your Product

July 13, 2022

Book Review by Taylor Berrett

We all want that much-talked-about-but-difficult-to-achieve “great culture.” We want our organizations to be inspiring, to become places that people are excited to be a part of. We want to believe that the people we lead are eager and excited to be led by us. But how do we achieve that goal?

In Chief Inspiration Officer: How to Lead the Team Everyone Wants to Be On, author Val Ries explores that exact question. She endeavors to help leaders attract the best talent, get top-producing results, and grow individual contributors into future leaders themselves. Overall, her goal is to help leaders at every level maximize the potential of the people around them in order to boost loyalty, engagement, and—ultimately— results.

Ries is the founder of Executive Muse, an executive coaching & management training company created to help managers and executives become the type of leaders people want to work for regardless of company or industry. Interestingly, Ries began her career in healthcare as a registered nurse before transitioning into medical sales and getting (in her words) “thrown” into management. She went on to earn her MBA and coaching certification, and has made a lifelong career out of studying what it takes to generate intrinsic motivation in others and make them “actually want to come to work.”

Inspire Others to Inspire Themselves

That phrase, “intrinsic motivation,” gets thrown around a lot— including in this book. But what exactly does it mean?

Essentially, intrinsic motivation is any motivation to work, practice, learn, or succeed that comes from within. It’s when you do great work not because someone has made your pay dependent on it, but because you personally value the work and feel that what you do matters.

In that way, Chief Inspiration Officer is a unique book that teaches you how to motivate people by getting them to motivate themselves. It also makes a convincing argument, backed by decades of research, that this is the only truly effective way to inspire excellence.

But that process begins with learning. In order to tap into people’s intrinsic motivations, you have to understand what those motivations are. That doesn’t come from a 20 minute ‘get-to-know-you’ meeting, Ries argues. It comes from investing the time, attention, energy, and empathy required to tap into a deeper vision your people have for themselves, their careers, and their teams.

But Chief Inspiration Officer doesn’t stop there. It also offers plenty of insights into other vital aspects of effective leadership, including:

  • How to drive others toward your goals and vision
  • How to recognize when and who to hire, and when/who to fire
  • Redirecting difficult conversations with confidence while addressing the real issues at the root of those conversations

The Bottom Line

Val Ries has created a book that lives up to its name by being genuinely inspiring without sacrificing actionable guidance. We recommend this book as a starting guide to help leaders (or aspiring leaders) tap into that aspect of leadership that until now has been one of the most difficult to teach— desirability. When people want to work with and for you, your team’s potential becomes limitless. And so does yours.

Taylor Berrett

Taylor Berrett is a Contributing Writer at Soundview. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and was the host of the podcast Alone in a Room.