Everyone knows that leaders have to motivate their people. So they do whatever they can to make it happen. Some yell and threaten. Some are cheerleaders. Some try to be best friends. Some use incentives and rewards. All in the hopes that their people will respond. Whatever works.
Why Leaders Can’t Motivate
The problem is that leaders can’t motivate their people. WHAT!?
This false notion about being able to motivate others refuses to die. The truth is that people are motivated internally based on what matters to them, not because of external pressure. Everyone must learn how to self-motivate (this is a predominant theme of the Partner-Pipeline®) because no can do it for them.
But leaders have an important part to play. If you are a leader, you can only create a motivating environment in which your people can activate their internal motivation drivers.
How Leaders Motivate
Therefore, your leader effectiveness is tied to your ability to know what drives your team individually. For instance, if one of your staff has an interest in interacting with clients but you continually have client interactions (in person and virtually) without them, you create a de-motivating situation for them. They may not be fully ready, but you take away their motivational driver that keeps them engaged.
If one of your staff really enjoys diving into technical problems but you continually remind them that they have budgets and deadlines to meet, you create a de-motivating situation for them. If those periodic “deep dives” matter to them, it’s your job to find ways to turn them loose.
If one of your staff shows potential in advisory thinking but you continually point them back to grinding out compliance work, they are de-motivated. Why don’t you involve them in higher-level client discussions and ask what they think?
If your people aren’t motivated, rather than blame them, the pandemic or the HR department, you should first look in the mirror. Are you creating a motivating environment for them? Because try as you may, you can’t motivate your people.
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