"There's a common source of motivation shared by every employee, and I want to share what that is: To influence behavior, you've got to give employees a reason to act. That's what motivation is, it's a reason to act. And the better the reason you can give, the more motivated your employees are going to be.
Great leaders have different motivational styles, but they share one big thing in common. They get to know their people, and specifically, they get to know what's important to them, what they value the most.
Motivation isn't real complicated. The one common source of motivation is 'self-interest'.
- If it's important to someone, they'll do it.
- If it's not, they'll find a reason not to do it.
That's not selfish behavior. It's just human nature. Effective leaders get to know the self-interests of each employee working for them. Then, when it's time to motivate their behavior, they explain why that behavior is in the employee's self-interest.
You've heard people talk about the "why". The "why" is your reason - your reason to act, and everyone shares the same "why". It's called self-interest.
Here's a quick example. Say you're trying to get someone that works remotely to come back into the office.
Elon Musk sent an email to all his employees at Tesla that said, 'if you value your job and you want to keep it, you'll be back in the office.'
Now, that's a more primitive use of this technique, because fear is motivating. And the fear of losing something you value can be very powerful motivation.
But let's say you're not a billionaire CEO, and you want to take a more positive motivational approach. Here's a better example: I was asked to speak with a senior engineer from a software company because he wouldn't spend more than one day a week in the office. The VP he worked for had already explained that it was company policy, most of his team was back in the office and that he needed to set a good example. Well, none of that worked. In fact, the guy got even more dug in. And when I sat down with him, he started with, 'so you're here to talk me into being back in the office.'
I thought about that for a second and simply said this: 'You don't know me and I don't know you, but I've got one piece of advice. I don't want you to regret any missed opportunities. So, think about your goals and how those goals might be better served from here in the office. That's how you're going to avoid future regrets.'
So what I do? I didn't sell him, and I didn't offer my reasons for coming back into the office. I encouraged him to look for his own motivation, his own reasons, based on his goals and his values. The discussion lasted all of 5-minutes. Now, I understand that the person has since decided to spend more time in the office, and I suspect he simply found his own reasons to act. He thought about his self-interests and found his motivation.
So here's your big takeaway: Get to know your people, know what they value and you'll know what their motives are. When you can align your direction with their values, you're going to get the behaviors you want and your motivating style is going to come together really quickly."
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