A recent conversation with a wise friend led us to wonder about how best to instill in our people to want to invest in themselves for development and growth. My friend was struggling to get through to some of her colleagues that the rewards of continuous self-improvement are many and that nobody can do the work for them, or make the sacrifices that will lead to wisdom and great learning. We talked about motivation and how it needs to be more than just a pep talk or a fiery motivational speech. There’s nothing wrong with pep talks, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a fiery motivational speech, but those are both External motivational strategies, and what is far more long-lasting is Internal motivation. We mused about how to encourage Internal motivation in her charges…
Strong leaders realize that manipulation is a losing strategy when it comes to inspiring your people to greatness. It may work for a while, but it generally doesn’t work for long. Better to assume a more positive and respectful posture and to approach your people from a position of mutual respect and trust. The question should not be “How can I get my people to achieve my goals?” but rather “How can I inspire my people to achieve THEIR goals or OUR goals?” When you talk with people and ask them questions about their goals, their priorities, and their dreams, they begin to reflect a bit deeper. In my experience when they begin to migrate from broad and general goals and dreams to those that are quite specific, we begin to sense some tangible emotional commitment.
Once you realize that your colleague is strongly internally motivated to go somewhere that is very close to where you’d like them to go, you can encourage them to take the first step and then the next step. The trick is not to give them a pep talk or a fire and brimstone speech designed to steal their conviction to do what you want them to do, it’s to allow them to get excited about accomplishing what THEY want to do. Rather than reinventing the wheel and devising a strategy for them engaging in YOUR goal, just understand their goal and join their bandwagon while it’s getting started rolling in that wonderful direction. You have to be there for your people and you have to encourage them. When their dreams and yours are closely aligned, you can encourage them all the way to the victory circle.
I’ve observed that most of the people I’ve met want today to be a little bit better than yesterday, and they’re hoping that tomorrow will be better than today. Given that, if we simply get into a conversation with our team members about what they’re hoping for in the future, and gain an understanding of their dreams, then we can help them to focus on them. There’s no room for manipulation. In order to help our people to invest in themselves for development and growth, we have to avoid the temptation to control what they want. We must simply understand what they want, and encourage them to take the actions that will make it a possibility. Along the path, as they improve, things tend to go very well indeed.
Michael Beach is the founder and CEO of Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, a firm with offices in Minnesota and Arizona that works with fast-growth mid-sized companies to help them to maximize their potential and develop a strong winning culture. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, and you’ll get access to some amazing best practices and tools, with no obligation! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org