July 21, 2022
Most of my adult life I’ve been a cat person and have spent countless hours watching and studying my cats to understand what makes them tick. Every time I think I have them figured out, they change it up on me and I’m back to square one. It’s part of their mystique.
Our dog is a simple creature motivated by one thing – food.
Need to lure the dog into the mobile groomer’s van for her monthly bath? Cheese!
And the motivational challenge this week: Need to get the dog into the shower for yet another bath to wash the skunk smell out of her luxurious coat? Cheese! And peanut butter. Lots of peanut butter.
Motivation is something that comes from inside each of us; it’s a desire to achieve something that we deem important. In the workplace, it is what drives us to achieve established goals and contribute to the success of the team or organization. Motivation increases productivity by improving focus on completing the task at hand. Motivation is also what fuels our desire to learn new things and build new skills, which in turn leads to career advancement and personal growth.
Understanding motivation is one of the most important things we can do in our lives, because it has such a bearing on why we do the things we do and whether we enjoy them or not.”
- Clayton Christensen
Understanding motivation is crucial for a leader focused on increasing team engagement and promoting individual commitment to the team’s success. For those who are extrinsically motivated, understanding what it is they are working for and giving them a fair opportunity to achieve their goals allows them to stay focused on the prize. In some ways those who are extrinsically motivated are easier to manage, as it quickly becomes clear what drives them. Assuming that it is something you can provide you have a quick path to success in motivating these individuals.
Each of these requires a different approach to maximizing the individual’s potential. However, it is beneficial to have diversity in how people are motivated. When managed well, extrinsically motivated team members can provide a solid foundation that supports those who are intrinsically motivated as they learn and grow.
Motivational pep talks and regular discussions about progress towards goals are important, however that only goes so far. When a leader’s task is to inspire their team actions speak louder than words. When people see their leaders “walking the walk” they start to trust. Trust is the foundation of leadership and a powerful motivational tool.
Our job as leaders is to create a safe space that inspires others’ personal commitment to motivation. Creating a culture that stimulates people’s intrinsic motivation requires a great deal more intentionality and effort than motivating my dog, which usually involves the simple act of opening the refrigerator door. Leaders who set the stage for motivated employees to reach their goals create the foundation for team success.
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