Monday, March 21, 2005

Three Factors of Leadership Motivation

Here is an article published by Brent Filson. He is the author of more than 20 business and leadership books and the founder of The Filson Leadership Group. Enjoy the reading...

Leaders do nothing more important than get results. But you can't get results by yourself. You need others to help you do it. And the best way to have other people get results is not by ordering them but motivating them. Yet many leaders fail to motivate people to achieve results because those leaders misconstrue the concept and applications of motivation. To understand motivation and apply it daily, let's understand its three critical factors. Know these factors and put them into action to greatly enhance your abilities to lead for results.

1. Motivation is physical action.
"Motivation" has common roots with "motor," "momentum," "motion," "mobile," etc. .. all words that denote movement, physical action. An essential feature of motivation is physical action. Motivation isn't about what people think or feel but what they physically do. When motivating people to get results, challenge them to take those actions that will realize those results.
I counsel leaders who must motivate individuals and teams to get results not to deliver presentations but "leadership talks." Presentations communicate information.. But when you want to motivate people, you must do more than simply communicate information. You must have them believe in you and take action to follow you. A key outcome of every leadership talk must be physical action, physical action that leads to results.

For instance, I worked with the newly-appointed director of a large marketing department who wanted the department to achieve sizable increases in the results. However, the employees were a demoralized bunch who had been clocking tons of overtime under her predecessor and were feeling angry that their efforts were not being recognized by senior management.

She could have tried to order them to get the increased results. Many leaders do that. But order-leadership founders in today's highly competitive, rapidly changing markets. Organizations are far more competitive when their employees instead of being ordered to go from point A to point B want to go from point A to point B. So I suggested that she take a first step in getting the employees to increase results by motivating those employees to want to increase results. They would "want to" when they began to believe in her leadership. And the first step in enlisting that belief was for her to give a number of leadership talks to the employees.

One of her first talks that she planned was to the department employees in the company's auditorium. She told me, "I want them to know that I appreciate the work they are doing and that I believe that they can get the results I'm asking of them. I want them to feel good about themselves."

"Believing is not enough," I said. "Feeling good is not enough. Motivation must take place. Physical action must take place. Don't give the talk until you know what precise action you are going to have happen."

She got the idea of having the CEO come into the room after the talk, shake each employee's hand, and tell each how much he appreciated their hard work — physical action. She didn't stop there. After the CEO left, she challenged each employee to write down on a piece of paper three specific things that they needed from her to help them get the increases in results and then hand those pieces of paper to her personally — physical action.

Mind you, that leadership talk wasn't magic dust sprinkled on the employees to instantly motivate them. (To turn the department around so that it began achieving sizable increases in results, she had to give many leadership talks in the weeks and months ahead.) But it was a beginning. Most importantly, it was the right beginning.

2. Motivation is driven by emotion.
Emotion and motion come from the same Latin root meaning "to move". When you want to move people to take action, engage their emotions. An act of motivation is an act of emotion. In any strategic management endeavor, you must make sure that the people have a strong emotional commitment to realizing it.

When I explained this to the chief marketing officer of a worldwide services company, he said, "Now I know why we're not growing! We senior leaders developed our marketing strategy in a bunker! He showed me his "strategy" document. It was some 40 pages long, single-spaced. The points it made were logical, consistent, and comprehensive. It made perfect sense. That was the trouble. It made perfect, intellectual sense to the senior leaders. But it did not make experiential sense to middle management who had to carry it out. They had about as much in-put into the strategy as the window washers at corporate headquarters. So they sabotaged it in many innovative ways. Only when the middle managers were motivated — were emotionally committed to carrying out the strategy — did that strategy have a real chance to succeed.

3. Motivation is not what we do to others.
It is what others do to themselves. The English language does not accurately depict the psychological truth of motivation. The truth is that we cannot motivate anybody to do anything. The people we want to motivate can only motivate themselves. The motivator and the motivatee are always the same person. We as leaders communicate, they motivate. So our "motivating" others to get results really entails our creating an environment in which they motivate themselves to get those results.

For example: a commercial division leader almost faced a mutiny on his staff when in a planning session, he put next year's goals, numbers much higher than the previous year's, on the overhead. The staff all but had to be scrapped off the ceiling after they went ballistic. "We busted our tails to get these numbers last year. Now you want us to get much higher numbers? No way!" He told me. "We can hit those numbers. I just have to get people motivated!"

I gave him my "motivator-and-motivatee-are-the-same-person!" pitch. I suggested that he create an environment in which they could motivate themselves. So he had them assess what activities got results and what didn't. They discovered that they spent more than 60 percent of their time on work that had nothing to do with getting results. He then had them develop a plan to eliminate the unnecessary work. Put in charge of their own destiny, they got motivated! They developed a great plan and started to get great results.

Over the long run, your career success does not depend on what schools you went to and what degrees you have. That success depends instead on your ability to motivate individuals and teams to get results. Motivation is like a hig voltage cable lying at your feet. Use it the wrong way, and you'll get a serious shock. But apply motivation the right way by understanding and using the three factors, plug the cable in, as it were, and it will serve you well in many powerful ways throughout your career.


Blogger Philip said...

Towards Meaningful Leadership

from TheManageMentor

An insight into the concept of corporate leadership…

Leadership today is less about ideology and more about economics. A leader’s effectiveness is measured by bottom line figures and not the sense of purpose he creates within an organisation. Most boards and industry scholars gauge a leader’s efficacy by the measure of his economic competitiveness and the ability to influence the stock prices.
Economic performance is definitely one of the most important metrics of gauging the effectiveness of leadership, however only using this one parameter would be unfair. Leadership as a concept is holistic and encompasses both the social and economic aspects of management. Thus for the betterment of the society and business, leaders should be given their due. They must be recognised for all that they can accomplish instead of merely basing their competence on their power to get the stock prices zooming!

Tracing back into history

To analyse the evolution of leadership one needs to primarily understand its origin. History suggests that in the eighteenth century when large formal networks were being established at the workplace, workers were engaged at the shop floor for most of their time. As a result they had little time to nourish their social relationships that comprised primarily of the family and society. This became a major source of discontentment among workers and it threatened their ability to derive a sense of purpose and meaning from life. It was then that the scholars turned to the heads of organisations. They hoped that they would play the role of the creator and perpetrator of purpose and values, helping employees to see meaning in what they were doing. Hence, the relationship between leadership and its role in establishing a sense of purpose was established, and leadership became synonymous with stewardship of values and meaning.

Through years the belief in the leader’s role, as a guide and “meaning-maker“, got strengthened. However, it is only recently that leadership and the link with its humane side seems to have got severed. Today, the flip side of leadership is more apparent. Economic performance has become the sole parameter of gauging leadership effectiveness.

The reasons for this changed trend are many. However one can trace its roots back to the late 70s and early 80s when stock markets became an obsession for industry analysts, corporates and stakeholders alike. It was here that leadership changed gears and its “evil ” twin raced ahead of its “humane” twin.

A matter of concern

As long as corporates are churning profits what difference does it make even if employees don’t feel a sense of purpose? Researchers believe that it would in no way impact organisational performance. The concern though is largely about an organisation’s long-term survival. On exercising the power that leadership enjoys, it could make a huge difference to the organisation as a social element. Simply put, leadership does not require playing the meaning-maker. If it does, it could make a huge difference from a long-term perspective.

Playing the meaning-maker is just one aspect. Today with leadership playing the “bread earner” the concern is of graver. It calls for a corporate introspection and addresses issues like –is it only the leader that makes corporate success? The restricted view that most corporates live in is rather frightening. Holding just one person responsible for the success or failure of a corporate is not only unfair but also impossible.

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the economic performance of a corporate is the sole function of its leadership, why are researchers, scholars and industry experts paranoid about the issue of leadership. Their concern should actually be less about leadership and more about other systems and processes that could sabotage the efforts of leadership!

The role of leadership in corporate economic performance is undebatable. However, the impact of leadership on employees and society can be tremendous but unfortunately leadership’s economic impact overshadows its social impact. This is a serious matter for those who believe in the power of leadership.

Assessing reasons

Certain questions are yet to be fathomed-Why has the corporate world become insensitive towards the purpose of leadership? Why has economic performance become the sole reason for the very existence of leadership? Researchers attribute this trend to two reasons. First, the modern society believes in tangibles. There is little evidence that values and performance have a concrete impact on economic performance. Hence, as an organisational head it would only be natural for one to evince little interest in these concepts. Secondly, meaning making as a process is difficult to quantify as compared to figures of economic performance that clearly reflect the bottomline. Therefore, industry observers find it difficult to use values, purpose and meaning as parameters for corporate analysis.

Where does leadership stand?

Leadership as a social function has a deep impact on the organisation as a whole. Firstly, leaders act as architects of their organisations. They give it a definite structure and connect the structure through a web of human relations. Apart from physically structuring the organisation, leaders also play a major role in shaping the mental make-up of an organisation, its values, vision and culture. Secondly, the leader acts as a symbolic representation of how he wants the organisation to be. His actions are highly deliberated since employees look upon leaders as role models emulating them in everything. They aspire to reach his heights. Such is the effect of leaders!

The roles of the architect and visionary that leaders play are key to giving meaning to the work lives of employees and the organisation as a whole. Research has also shown that there is a definite connection between purposeful working and performance. The logic is that if employees see meaning in what they are doing and their acts reflects the values that organisations swear by then the commitment that employees demonstrate is enhanced. This renewed level of commitment gets converted into the organisation’s competitive advantage. Hence, by bypassing the social impact of leadership for economic gains, organisations are wasting their leadership potential and missing out on the opportunity to gain and sustain their competitive edge.

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7:49 AM  

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