Nothing leaders do is more significant than getting results. But you can’t get many results by yourself—you need people to help you. And the best way to have others help you is by motivating them to accomplish results. The old paradigm, which says revenue growth and shareholder-value growth are interrelated, does not go far enough toward clarifying how the best companies produce value. Try using these three motivation principles.
Principle #1 of Motivation: Motivation is Material Accomplishment
“Motivation” has common roots with “motor,” “momentum,” “motion,” and “mobile.” These words represent movement and action. Motivation isn’t about what people think or feel but what they do. When motivating people to get results, challenge them to take those actions that will achieve desired results.
You will be more competitive when your people, instead of being ordered to go from point A to point B, want to go from point A to point B. They will “want to” when they believe in your leadership. This predisposition cannot be helped because of indispensable variances in the program designers’ backgrounds. But eventually, a single approach is too constricted. To design learning experiences that work, leadership training will have to integrate more meritoriously all four approaches into a solitary program. Consequently, leadership training has budged toward teaching managers and executives how to expect what is on their industry skyline and how to mobilize their organization to shape the future.
The first step in conscripting their belief in your leadership is for you believe in them and to value the work they do. Express your belief that they can get the results you are asking of them. Tell them how much you appreciate their hard work. For many companies, leadership training then basically befalls a quick-fix answer to greater problems.
But believing is not enough. Motivation means people take the precise actions they need to take to make happen what you want to have happen. Encourage people to write down three precise things that they need from you to help them get increased results.
Principle #2 of Motivation: Motivation is Propelled 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. People need a strong emotional commitment (motivation) to take action and realize the goal. The key is to visualize the future as having numerous possibilities and to develop intuition about relative probability by revealing ourselves to a wide gamut of successes and failures.
When I explained this to the chief marketing officer of a services company, he said, “Now I know why we’re not growing! We (senior leaders) established our marketing strategy in a bunker! He showed me his 40-page strategy document. The points were logical, consistent, and all-inclusive. It made perfect sense—to the senior leaders. But it did not make experiential sense to the people who had to carry it out. Since they had no input into the strategy, they disrupted the implementation in many innovative ways. Only when people are motivated—emotionally committed—to functioning the strategy, does it have a chance to succeed.
Principle #3 of Motivation: Inspiration is What Others Do to Themselves, Not What You Do to Them
You and I can’t motivate anybody to do anything. The people we want to motivate can only motivate themselves. The motivator and motivatee are always the same person. Leaders communicate, but individuals must motivate themselves. So, our “motivating” others to get results really entails our creating an atmosphere in which they can motivate themselves to get those results. On top of that, there is the very important role of setting direction and in communicating that direction.
For example, one leader almost encountered a mutiny when he presented next year’s goals—numbers much higher than the previous year’s goals. The staff went ballistic. “You expect us to get much higher numbers? No way!” He told me. “I know we can hit those numbers. I just have to get my people motivated!” I recommended that he create an environment in which his people could motivate themselves. So, he had them measure what activities got results. They discovered that they spent 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 pointless work. Once in charge of their own destiny, they got motivated! They established a great plan and started to get great results.
A good number of leadership programs have a half-life of a few days or weeks after the conferences close. Few have established passable transfer mechanisms to bring leadership skills back alive to the office, and most are captives of a single pedagogic method that imitates the teaching of their instructors.
Create the Right Climate to Motivate Employees
At the moment, there are adequate incentives for people to perform, based on the recognition that they accomplish what we thought they should to achieve. The point is that there are people to talk to who have an in-depth, long-term appreciation of the company and who know what is really going on.
Your career success depends on the ability of managers to motivate individuals and teams to get the results. The best ways to recognize others and celebrate accomplishments is best done by:
# setting high standards,
# discovering people doing things right,
# being innovative with rewards,
# acknowledging others in public, and
# personalizing rewards.