How can I inspire people to tackle a challenge?
A six-step process to lead your team on a big mission
Recently, I got to talk with world-renowned cardiologist Holly Andersen.
February is American Heart Month, and Holly joined me on the podcast to share more about the movement she started, Hands Only CPR.
This was just a couple of weeks after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field and collapsed suddenly.
Thankfully, medics were able to resuscitate Damar, and he is on his way to a full recovery.
But talking to Holly, I learned that not nearly everyone is as fortunate.
She told me 92% of cardiac arrest victims don't even make it to the hospital because the people around them don't know how to help.
Holly is working hard to change that. She wants everyone to know how to step in and help someone in cardiac arrest.
She calls it the 3 C’s to save a life: check, call, compress. You check to see if somebody's breathing and responsive. You call 911. And then you begin chest compressions hard and fast in the center of the chest.
It’s a powerful message, and with her passionate leadership, she is really getting this message out and saving lives.
And as Holly shared the story of her cause and how they’re driving awareness, I realized:
Holly has given us a winning playbook on how to rally people around a big challenge.
For her, that’s educating people on hands-only CPR.
But it’s a skill every leader needs to have.
Do you know how to inspire people to tackle a challenge together?
That challenge might be massive – like turning around a struggling company.
Or it might be a smaller scale – like launching a new website.
But I decided to study what Holly has done so we can all learn from it. I’ve broken it down into six steps YOU can use to lead people to solve big problems.
Step 1: Fully define the problem.
You’ve probably heard me say it before, but a leader’s job is to define reality.
And you can’t fix the challenge you’re facing unless you properly define it first.
In Holly’s case, she fully understands the problem she’s up against. Too many people die from cardiac arrest, and that number hasn’t improved in decades.
To define the problem, she comes equipped with a list of statistics that show just how much progress we need to make. She tells stories of those affected by it.
That’s your first step, too.
Lay out all the facts you can to fully define the problem. Use statistics and research. Find anecdotes and stories that put the problem in human terms. All of this helps you and your team get clear on the reality you’re facing.
Step 2: Develop a breakthrough solution.
Now that you’ve defined your problem, you get to do the fun part: find a solution!
In Holly’s case, her breakthrough solution is Hands-Only CPR. It’s a simpler way to save lives. Why? Because it helps ordinary people intervene without full CPR training and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Dig in with your team to find that solution. Use all the research you’ve gotten so far. Ask more questions. Think creatively. See what others have done to tackle similar problems.
Remember, not every solution has to mean a sweeping new approach. It can be a simpler version of what’s already in place, a small tweak, or a multi-part plan with baby steps.
Step 3: Package that solution in simple terms.
Once you’ve got your solution, there’s one more step before you can roll it out.
The best solution in the world won’t solve any problems if people can’t actually understand it, remember it, and apply it.
That’s why it’s so important to package your solution in simple terms. Turn it into a three-part plan. Use an acronym. Make it memorable. Otherwise, people won’t remember it – and they won’t implement it, either.
In Holly’s case, she needed something that people could easily recall in a stressful, unexpected situation. It’s just “3 C’s” to save a life: Check, Call, Compress.
Of course, the stakes may not be as high for the challenge you’re facing, but people still need to be able to recall your solution quickly and easily if you want them to actually implement it.
Step 4: Show why it’s a noble cause.
You’ve got your well-defined problem and a solution that can be packaged up simply. Now, you’ve got to answer the question: what’s the bigger purpose for tackling this challenge?
Nobody ever wants to go to work to be part of something mediocre. They want to be a part of something that's really special.
In other words, it can’t just be about making dollars or driving sales. What’s the noble cause behind this goal? How does the world get a little – or a lot – better with the work you do toward it?
Find that noble cause and articulate it in a way that people understand. When you do, your team will be able to tap into a deeper purpose for their work.
For Holly, that noble cause is a slam dunk. You’re saving lives! Causes don’t get much more noble than that.
Make sure your team understands why the world becomes a better place – even in a small way – when your problem gets solved.
Step 5: Say what’s in it for them.
A noble cause is imperative. But that’s only part of the equation when you’re talking about inspiring people to take action. You’ve also got to show people what’s in it for them.
It sounds a little self-centered, but it’s basic human nature. People’s ears tend to perk up when you tell them how something benefits them.
If you want your team to tackle a problem, you’ve got to spell out what’s in it for them when they do.
Explain how it will help the company grow – and how they can grow in the company, too. Share what new opportunities could arise as a result of accomplishing that goal.
Holly does this brilliantly when she explains Hands Only CPR. She tells people that 70% of cardiac cases happen with people in your home. That means the most likely life you save by learning Hands Only CPR is the life of someone you love deeply.
If you’re not getting the kind of buy-in you need toward a big goal, make sure you’re clearly articulating the answer to “what’s in it for me,” because I guarantee your team wants to know!
Step 6: Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Now that you’ve been through the steps, I want you to repeat them – over and over again!
Most leaders just don’t grasp the power of repetition. Ironically, I can’t stress this point enough!
Drive your message home, over and over again. You may feel like a broken record, but that’s just when people are finally starting to hear you.
Repeat it often and repeat it consistently. When you do, people will understand the importance of tackling that big challenge, and they’ll get more and more focused on overcoming it.
Holly and her team have found so many channels and partnerships to get their message out. She understands they have to keep beating that drum if they want the life-saving message of hands-only CPR to truly break through the noise and sink in.
Remember: as a leader, it’s your job to get people working together to tackle challenging issues. In fact, that might be the very definition of what true leadership is.
Without this skill, you’ll always struggle to get big things done in your job.
But these six steps will give you a clear roadmap to follow whenever you need to work through a big challenge with a team.
Which of these steps really resonates with you? What steps did I miss? Leave a comment and tell me. I want you to join the conversation so I can learn from you!