When we think about motivation, it’s easy to start with the wrong assumption about people. People are not unmotivated. Everyone is motivated by something—they’re just not all motivated by the same things. In fact, let’s look at a good leader’s definition of motivation: The art of leading someone to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.
In today’s episode, we’ll look at two things to avoid when we’re trying to motivate our teams, and three ways we can motivate in a way that lasts. First, let’s look at what doesn’t work:
1. Avoid fear and threats. Fear can be a good motivator in the short term, but it’s difficult for anyone to be successful when they’re consumed by fear.
There are four ways many leaders unintentionally create fear: We overreact without knowing all the facts, we ask the wrong kinds of questions, we can be passive-aggressive, and we can be careless with our power.
2. Avoid handing out candy and promises. Rewards often play a role in many types of leadership, but leaning on them for motivation isn’t a good long-term strategy either. Outside rewards often cheapen internal satisfaction.
So, how do we motivate our team in a way that lasts? Let’s look at three key practices we can put into place, starting with #3.
3. When all else fails, discipline. One of the most demotivating things we can do as a leader is consistently accept unacceptable performance. If you want to lose the respect of your team, don’t address problems. Most times, you’ll need to discipline in private, but sometimes, you’ll need to discipline in public. There are ways we can do the offender a favor when we publicly show that the issue has been addressed and resolved.
When you discipline privately, create a climate of safety. Show them how they are impacting others and how others view them. Communicate to them what specifically needs to change.
2. Create a culture of appreciation. The single biggest reason people leave an organization is that they don’t feel appreciated. So, any time you want to motivate, appreciate! Appreciate your people more than you think you should—then double it. Appreciate people for the things they’re consistently doing right.
1.Model motivation. You set the tone for your organization. If you lack passion and motivation, others will follow. Hall of Fame coach John Wooden says it this way: “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”
Rather than just focusing on motivating others, focus on motivating yourself.
Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader! Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.
Here's an exercise you can do to grow as a leader—ask your team these questions:
1. What do you think is the number one demotivating thing you do in your leadership?
2. We talked about the idea that one of the most demotivating things a leader can do is consistently accept unacceptable performance. What is one problem that you have been tolerating that it’s time for you to address?
3. On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the highest), how good are you at showing appreciation? What will you specifically do to move that number higher?
4. What can you do daily to raise your personal motivation?
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