Flipping the Switch – 7 motivators every effective leader and manager knows well

Effective leadership is the process of persuasion and example by which an individual induces a person or group to take action that is in accord with the leader’s purposes.

It is the art of letting people have your own way.

Remembering the motivators specific to generations detailed earlier in this series, here are seven general motivators.

First – challenge. Most people, especially producers, crave a challenge. They get bored easily and seek new mountains to climb. When the leader can define and articulate vision, he is placing the challenge up front. The objective, painted in colors appealing and attractive, draws viewers into the picture, makes them participants, and unites them in efforts to make the picture better. Identifying both the objectives to be reached, their benefits to everyone concerned, and explaining how a person’s participation is crucial will energize people to get involved. As a person grows in years and ability, her or his capacity for bigger challenges grows too.

Second – vision. Without clear, distinct, inspirational vision, people just dabble. Productive people are, well, producers because they focus on tasks, aim for objectives, and complete jobs. But this commitment to productivity goes into turbo when daily tasks are connected to long-range targets.

Third – honest praise. Don’t flatter. It has no purpose other than to advance your own interests while cheapening your relationship with others. It assumes your associates are gullible, not smart enough to see through it. Sometimes they are gullible and won’t see through it but it diminishes your authority and weakens your influence. Honest praise, conversely, makes a deeper connection, deepens trust, and most importantly, builds a balance in the bank of good will. I have scheduled a more thorough explanation of this very critical component for next week but let me preview it here. Every relationship is like a bank account. You have to put money in before you can take it out. As leader and/or manager, there will certainly be a time when you must make adjustments, offer advice, and make corrections. If you’ve made deposits in your relationship, done by building trust, sincerity, honesty, and the like, you have a balance in the relationship account. If not, you’re overdrawn from the beginning. Flattery is counterfeit currency used to buy time and influence in the bank of relationship. You will get caught.

Fourth – contribution.  I wrote about what I think is the most critical need we humans have, the need for significance, in a blog post on my other blog. You can read it here. I stand by my appraisal. There is hard-wired into every human the need to contribute, to make a difference, to have added value to life, to make things better. Many people cannot identify it and from appearances their behavior would seem to contradict, but people need to participate in making life better. When that is taken from them by whatever devices or manner, they suffer and those with whom they interact suffer, too. This motivator ties nicely in with vision and honest praise. You, as leader and manager have the rewarding task of pointing out just how the people who work for and with you do indeed contribute.

Fifth – growth and advancement. Even Jesus disciples, as altruistic and noble as they were, asked him who is the greatest in the kingdom. Rather than beat those guys up for being so self-serving, let’s acknowledge that their question simply reveals an all-too-common and oh-so-human condition. We want to know we are getting somewhere. Our language is peppered with expressions that indicate the need. Climbing the ladder, getting ahead, making progress are expressions of growth and advancement. Motivation is unleashed when employees and associates see the correlation between what they do, how they perform, and getting raises and promotions plus higher levels of responsibility.

Sixth – money. Dollars make sense when there is correlation between what you do and what you get paid. Motivation quickly leaks out when there seems to be no relationship. One company I know of will give their workers raises but then limit their billable hours so the end result is the same. This does not motivate. More money does.

Seventh – respect and admiration for those with whom they work. Most of us cannot be bought for dollars alone, as much as we want them. We look for associations with causes and people for whom we hold respect and admiration. This goes back to the premise that motivation occurs when values within the worker coincide with values within the company. Perhaps this is best evidenced in political campaigns where paid staff and volunteers become energized because of the cause and the person running for office. The same principle applies in the workplace.

On Monday, I will list and discuss 7 key demotivators. See you then.

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