If I were a motivational speaker I would have a gold lamé jacket, a platinum pompadour, and teeth so white they look like Chiclets. I would talk for hours about the power of the mind and then I would crush a gas can with just my intense mental focus. I would top off the show by levitating over a flaming koi pond.
The problem is I don’t own a gold lamé jacket, and I’m not sure theatrics have any lasting motivational effect. So let’s stop talking about motivation as something you DO to others. You motivate a horse to giddyup by smacking it with a buggy whip, but I believe people are most motivated when they get to employ their unique talents to make an impact and are then recognized for it.
So, instead of trying to motivate people with vitriolic rants, fear, highly individualized compensation, or pure charisma, why not focus on creating an environment that gets out of people’s way and allows them to follow their own talents and motivations?
If you are so inclined to follow this line of thinking, here are 12 ways to help you orchestrate that environment:
1. Care – Take the time in monthly one on one meetings with your team to find out what personally motivates them. Use this information to shape their jobs.
2. Share – Share information and strategy freely and always asks for feedback. This sets the stage for everyone contributing in a meaningful way.
3. Declare – Declare your biases and faults as a leader. Instead of pretending you are perfect, let people know the things you are still working on. It helps promote an open environment.
4. Lair – Your physical workplace doesn’t have to be luxurious, but it should not be distracting, and you should allow people some freedom to personalize their workspace.
5. Beware – Beware of bad eggs who are bringing the team down. Bad attitudes must be dealt with or else they will start to disrupt the team flow.
6. Dare – Once you know people’s skills and internal drivers, dare them to make an impact. Brainstorm things they can do with their talent and push them a little.
7. Snare – When someone comes up with a good idea, snare it, and put it in a cage for observation. If others like it, feed it and help it grow.
8. Rare – Look for rare talents within the team that are underutilized and make it a point to find a way to use them even if they don’t pertain to the person’s current job.
9. Fair – Keep your compensation fair and focused on team or company performance. Move away from highly complicated individualized compensation.
10. Pair – Realize that team chemistry is as important as talent. Pair up people that work very well together. When people really like their team, they are often motivated to perform.
11. There – Top leaders should be there for people in times of need and when business is difficult. They should be willing to patiently explain what’s happening and help everyone through it.
12. Flare – When someone does something great, the leaders should shoot up a flare, metaphorically speaking, to celebrate the accomplishment.
I believe your goal as a leader is to actively clear the path ahead to allow your team to follow their own motivations. This will promote a happier team and more progress over the long run.
And while I may never be a motivational speaker, I still may try to levitate over a flaming koi pond just for fun. Are gold lamé jackets flammable?