In my experience with new leaders, the question they most often seem to grapple with is how to motivate other people. Once they take a broader approach, they consider how to inspire. Inspiration is the real test of leadership.
Motivation creates a willingness to act. Leaders who motivate open the door to action and compliance. Inspiration generates a strong desire to act. It leads to creativity and innovation.
Motivation touches their behavior. Inspiration touches their hearts.
I thought of these distinctions because I just looked at two books that provide some valuable tips on how to motivate. When practiced with compassion, dedication and understanding, they lead to the important next step of inspiring others.
The first book by my colleague Mike Figliuolo and Victor Prince, a co-author I do not know, is called Lead Inside the Box. Their premise is that leaders have only a limited amount of capital—time and energy. They contend that leaders can be effective only when they spend that capital where it makes the greatest difference. That is not an earth-shattering view, but they offer some worthwhile ideas for how to proceed from there.
Figliuolo and Prince suggest that leaders at all levels must first determine where they are spending their time and energy across their teams, identify the leadership needs of team members and then make decisions about how to work with each team member most effectively.
Their framework (box) is the key to making those decisions. It provides a way to look at a team member’s output to determine what input a leader can provide to help them be more productive.
They discuss how to deal with a variety of characters in the organizational world. These include types such as “Stowaways,” “Squeaky Wheels,” “Rising Stars” and “Square Pegs.” Each type requires different leadership strategies to motivate them to the highest levels of productivity. This valuable book is filled with many concrete examples for how to do this most effectively.
The second book is one I bought a number of years ago called 1,001 Ways to Inspire: Your Organization, Your Team and Yourself by David E. Rye. It uses individual personality types similar to Myers-Briggs indicators to describe how to work with different individuals in many different realistic situations.
The individuals include employees, your boss, co-workers, and yourself. As I reviewed the book, I saw people and situations I have addressed in the past.
Based on these books and my own experience, what are my suggestions for how to motivate?
- Look at goals. What are the goals you want to achieve? What is your mission? Are you accomplishing that mission? Where are the gaps?
- Face facts. As suggested by Figliuolo and Prince, recognize that you have only time and energy to invest. How will you invest it most effectively?
- Assess your efforts. Look at yourself. Where are you spending the most time and energy? What are the results? Where are your efforts successful? Where are they wasted?
- Look at team members. There is no one strategy for all team members or for all groups. Each situation calls for a different approach. What are their strengths? Where are developmental areas? Where can you bridge the gaps for greatest success?
- Consider your resources. What is available to you to address the issues you see? Do you need to enlist the help of a colleague or a coach? Do you need additional information?
- Develop a plan. Consider strategies and alternatives. How will you approach situations that drain your time and energy? How will you work with high-, medium- and low-producing team members? How will you know if you have been successful?
- Stick to the plan. Review the plan periodically to see if it needs revision, but continue to monitor time, effort and team members to see how you can use your only resources of time and energy most effectively.
While the author of the second book uses the term inspire in the title, the book is limited to how to motivate. Motivation is essential. However, as mentioned previously, the key is inspiration.
Inspiration brings about ideas and actions the leader may never have imagined.
So how does one go to the next level? How does a leader inspire?
However, I will add some thoughts below:
- Inspiration requires thoughtful and passionate communication. If a potential follower does not see a leader’s passion, he is unlikely to develop it on his own.
- Inspiration requires understanding why. A leader must create a compelling picture of what need exists and why another person would want to address it.
- Inspiration thrives when others are allowed to blossom. Be open to new ideas. Allow other people room to grow.
- Inspiration comes only from emotion. Leaders who get in touch with their own emotions and learn how to touch the emotions of others have learned how to inspire.
An effective and powerful leader builds a vehicle to a better future and convincingly asks others to hop on.
How are you motivating? How are you inspiring?