- October 31, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
I recently read an article on LinkedIn about how leaders shouldn’t have to motivate others, and I had a bit of an “amen!” response.
To me, motivating someone means applying some kind of pressure to get someone to do something they might not otherwise do.
As author Maurice Evans said:
Motivation has to do with having the interest in doing something and then having the willingness and ability to see it through to completion.
Motivation however is not the same as emotion or personality. Motivation is instead a dynamic and temporal state of mind.
A person who is motivated can be motivated to accomplish a long-term goal or a short-term goal and both have value.
Extrinsic motivation is manipulative. Extrinsic motivation comes from a carrot-or-stick approach by most managers — usually the stick — and people will most likely do what they’re told, but they’ll do so grudgingly and without enthusiasm.
Think of personal health. People who exercise regularly are internally motivated to do it. Whether they’re afraid of becoming sick, or they love the results of their efforts, they’re motivated by an internal force. People who use a personal trainer are often not internally motivated, and rely on an outside force to pressure them to exercise regularly.
If you want people to become internally motivated, you have to sell your ideas and concepts, not tell people what they have to do. You need emotional buy-in, not the threat of termination or penalties if they don’t do it.
This actually starts with the hiring process. I’ve said in the past that you should hire slow and fire fast. That’s because hiring people is an art, not a science. You should hire people who can be intellectually and emotionally engaged, not only in what they’re doing, but enough to want the best for the enterprise.
And within 90 days, you’ll know whether you have an individual who is intellectually engaged and moving toward an emotional engagement with the enterprise and your goals. If they aren’t engaging, you should just let them go and get someone else who is actually motivated and will emotionally engage with your goals and mission.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. I’ve heard from people who work in government that many employees there lack the motivation to do their jobs with any enthusiasm. And it’s only the threat of reprisal that keeps them from not actually doing anything.
This is why I’ve been less concerned about a person’s accomplishments and the length of their résumé and more concerned with their enthusiasm, their ability to communicate, and their passion for their work. If they had that, then I felt they could outperform people who may have been more accomplished, but weren’t passionate or interested in their work.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, as well as speak at conferences, trade shows, and chambers of commerce. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Erin Nekeveris (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)