Is it a leader’s job to motivate their people, or is it the individual’s job to motivate themselves? To a certain extent, people must motivate themselves, but there are factors that only a leader can control that play a big role in a worker’s motivation. In Episode #63 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, Chris and Perry explain 3 strategies for facilitating motivation that will create a workplace where your team values working.
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Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining. As a reminder, if you would like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or perhaps bring one of us in for a 5 Levels private workshop for your organization, we would love to do that! Please go to johnmaxwellcompany.com/podcast, and you can leave a comment or a question for Perry and me on that site. We would love to hear from you.
Today’s topic is titled: “Is It Really My Job to Motivate You?” I can’t wait. I know I can remember asking myself this question over the years. When I get invited to speak for organizations, I ask them what outcome they’d like to see from my speech. What do they want to happen when I’m done? They always say, “We really want you to motivate our team.” I think to myself, “Is it really my job to motivate your team?” Isn’t it the job of the leader to motivate their team? Or why don’t you just hire self-motivated people? I don’t say that out loud, of course. But seriously, whose job is it to motivate a group of people?
Motivation is funny. It’s unreliable because it’s based on how people feel. We’ve known for generations, for centuries actually, that feelings are very fluid and unpredictable. Motivation is such a big topic in leadership around the world—no matter where we are around the world, it’s a big topic. How do leaders be motivational for their team? It comes back to the 5 Levels of Leadership. This topic really falls around both Level 2 and Level 3. It’s funny that we’re talking about this because just last week I was having a discussion with a colleague about taking on a new team member. We were talking about a couple of different candidates, and I said I’d always rather have to pull the chain back a little bit on somebody that’s super motivated than have to constantly fan the flame to get them motivated. We were just having that conversation, so it’s a very real and constant concern for leaders.
First of all, there are internal and external motivators, but at the end of the day, you want people that are self-motivated. At a conference a few weeks ago, John spoke on stage about seven strategies that leaders can do to help followers with their motivation, but that at the end of the day motivation is your responsibility. You’ve got to motivate you. If I’m relying on outside sources, it gets a little dangerous. But as a leader, are there things we can do to help our team members with their motivation? We’ve got eight strategies for motivating your team we’re going to share with you today. Some of these speak to intrinsic, or internal, motivation and some speak to extrinsic, or external, motivation. We believe people need both, but intrinsic motivation is really where the long-term effects happen. Intrinsic motivation is all about the “why” someone does what they do, their personal reasons, whereas the extrinsic is about the rewards, such as pay or praise.
The first strategy we’d like to share for boosting the motivation of your team is purpose. This has got to be number one. Do you team members feel connected to the purpose of the organization? Does it feed their internal need to be part of something bigger than themselves? Like we often advise leaders, ask yourself how you are defining to each team member their role in achieving the bigger purpose. That’s what you’ve got to figure out: how do you help them understand their connection to the bigger picture, so that they feel that intrinsic motivation?
John has talked a lot about our second strategy: autonomy. Do you allow your team to do their own work? Do you micromanage? Think about it: why would that be motivational? People need to control their work day. It comes down to trust. When you let your workers control their work day, you’re saying you trust them to do their job. For me personally, being micromanaged kills my motivation. We have to empower others. As leaders, we tend to want to control everything. We want to do it ourselves. We think we can do it better. We’ve got to make sure we’re giving our people autonomy and showing them we trust them.
Number three is relationships. People are motivated by their relationships, both with their leader and their teammates. We have an innate desire to belong and to relate with others. If the workplace is a lonely place for someone, and they’re getting up every morning and not looking forward to coming to work, their going to feel very little motivation. The sense of being a part of a team is very motivating. All of us have that innate desire to be a part of a team, something bigger than ourselves. So, how do you help if somebody’s feeling lonely or not connecting to others? Of the 5 Levels, that’s a Level 2 type of skill. We all connect in different ways, so what works for Perry is not necessarily going to work with Jake. As a leader, you can find what is important to this person who isn’t connecting. What are their passions, their strengths? John says everyone can connect with anyone, even if it’s just 1%. Whatever that 1% is you may have in common with that person, you go in 100%. It’s our job as leaders to figure out what it is that we have in common. What is that 1% that I can use to connect with this person, allowing them to feel part of the team?
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Number four is progress. Do your team members feel they are making progress toward their goals? There’s nothing more demotivating than feeling like you’re spinning your wheels, not making any progress. If you think some of your team may feel this way, how do you help that? One thing I’ve done is provide constant feedback and coaching. John says the three questions everybody wants to know about you are 1) Can you help me? 2) Do you care about me? and 3) Can I trust you? Let your team members know that you care about their progress and that you want to help them make more progress in their work.
Number five: mastery. Are they growing and learning? We’re big about this at JMC. We believe you should always be growing. Is there an area or subject matter in which everyone is growing expertise, and if not, how can you help them get there? Or, if they do possess expertise, how can you help them grow even further in that area of expertise? There is this guy who I believed was not a motivated person. I asked him, “How are you growing, and how can we help you grow?” He goes, “I’m already an expert.” I said, “Well, are you a thought leader?” He answered, “Well, no, I’m not a thought leader.” I said, “Let’s make you a thought leader.” All of a sudden he came alive. He may have reached a limit of growth in a certain area, but there is unlimited growth potential when it comes to leading others to grow in that area.
Number six is interesting: money. It’s an extrinsic motivator, but money is a can be a powerful motivator. In many ways, money is how we show a worker’s value. We don’t like to lean on money for motivation, but I have found that, if you’re doing the first five strategies right, this one holds a lot less significance anyway. People feel valued if they’re making progress and they have mastery, so they don’t rely on money for their purpose as much. However, if any of those five are lacking, all of a sudden there’s a spotlight on money. Most of the places I’ve worked were not the highest-paying roles in the world, but I stayed because I had value. I felt I had a purpose. That internal motivation was strong.
Don’t get us wrong; money is important. Especially when the economy is good, people have choices. They can prioritize higher pay and jump ship. You’ve got to ask yourself, “What am I continually doing to give them reasons to want to stay on our team?” People may join your organization for one reason, but they won’t stay for just that one reason. Most of the time they’re joining for the compensation package, so after that, it’s on you to get them to stay. That’s why money is a bit further down on the list. Money gets people in the door but it can lead them out just as quickly. How are you motivating your people to stay?
Number seven is recognition. This is another extrinsic motivator. Everyone likes to be recognized for their work. An email to the whole organization when a goal is accomplished is nice to see. You’re acknowledging everyone’s effort, and you’re giving recognition to your team members. It’s important for you to recognize hard work. It’s motivating to be recognized once in awhile.
The eighth motivator is appreciation. A lot of times, that gets lumped in with recognition, but I think these are two totally different things. We actually did a podcast episode on this topic. Recognition tends to be one way, which is from the boss downward. Um, appreciation is 360 degrees. Everyone can appreciate others, no matter their status. And everybody has a different language of appreciation. Letting people know you appreciate what they’re doing, that they’re a valuable part of the team, it makes them feel connected, like they belong. It’s an all-around great facilitator of motivation.
As we wrap up, let me summarize the key points and takeaways from today’s episode, as well as encourage our listeners to take action on these strategies. First, remember that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are needed to drive behaviors, but that the intrinsic are more powerful. Second, don’t use extrinsic motivators to bribe or control your people. Rather, use them as a means of signaling a job well done. Additionally, praise, while it is an external motivator, can increase intrinsic motivation by fueling a sense of connection, value, and purpose. But use it specifically and authentically, because as soon as you inauthentically give praise to people, every time after that they’ll think to themselves, “Oh, here goes Chris again. He doesn’t mean it.” That’s where the “specific” comes in. Be specific about your praise to show that you mean it.
In conclusion, when your team members both intrinsically and extrinsically feel valued, they value being a part of your organization. And we’re all motivated a little bit differently. As a leader, it’s not necessarily our job to motivate but to understand how people are motivated (externally and internally) and facilitate opportunities for both kinds in your workplace. Lastly, John always says, “Motivate, don’t manipulate.” Don’t use these tips to get stuff out of your people. Use them to create a workplace where people value working.
That’s awesome. If you didn’t get all 10 tips, they will be in the learning guide that you can download from a form at the top of this page. As always, just a reminder for our listeners: if you would like to know more about this topic or the 5 Levels of Leadership, perhaps even bring a 5 Levels workshop to your location, you can find more information at johnmaxwellcompany.com/podcasts. You’re welcome to leave a question for us there if you have one. We always love hearing from you, and we really appreciate you joining us on this journey. This has been the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.