by Judy Ryan
Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. -Dwight D. Eisenhower
For centuries as a people, we have opted to use control measures such as command-and-control management (eliciting fear and resentment), motivation using carrots (incentives and rewards) as well as our approval or disapproval (developing guilt, brownnosing and safe rather than creative action), all in a well-intentioned attempt to develop people into good citizens so they produce worthy results. It’s understandable why we do this. It’s been the status quo for centuries.
If I had a gun and you thought I’d use it on you or if I offered you thousands of dollars to do what I wanted you to do, that would likely work. Using control feels powerful and effective, especially when you are afraid and want new conditions to come about quickly. But if I used any form of control with you, it would diminish your internal, or intrinsic, motivation.
The problem is that most people don’t make this cause-and-effect connection between control and diminished personal responsibility. In fact, the more they use control, the less responsible the other person becomes, justifying even greater use of control in the minds of many leaders. This vicious cycle has gone on so long that it’s resulted in incredibly low and stuck levels of general disengagement and active disengagement (71% of the population), costing us all on every front: financially, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It greatly limits what we are capable of creating, solving and advancing.
The truth is that we’re all motivated all the time. However, because we’ve so often been conditioned to be led through control rather than lead ourselves intrinsically, we don’t recognize or take charge of our motivation and personal power and ensure we use it wisely and fully. Until we understand that control itself is counterproductive, we will continue to choose it instead of the innovative measures available to develop people from the inside out. If I carried you around all day, every day, you’d have weakened leg muscles.
Similarly, when you use extrinsic motivators, you weaken the intrinsic motivators within your people. What can be done?
One of the most important things you can do is to understand what conditions and practices bring out the best in your people so they are operating at full engagement. To do this, you need to lead in ways that develop people’s intrinsic motivation. You must learn how to assess whether they find their work meaningful, have enough responsibility and choice (including trying something new without fear around failure), get support they need to be competent and celebrate progress. When you learn to pay attention to intrinsic motivators and nurture them, while removing control methods, your people will respond by shifting from disengaged to fully engaged behavior.
I can’t overemphasize how worthy this is of your time and investment. Our world needs people to be fully, consciously and lovingly using personal power and responsibility to help us overcome the many challenges in our world so as to improve the quality of life, love and joy we all experience. Your people are and want to be great. Helping all of them to develop their intrinsic motivation so they become empowered to deliver great things – customer service, sales, retention, referrals and reputation – is crucial. I’m here to help if you’re ready.
Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
Submitted 4 years 58 days ago