We talk a lot about leaders: the qualities that make strong leaders, the differences between those that say versus do. There is a long list, but there is one thing above all that a true leader must be able to do – motivate.
Leaders should inspire you to want more, to challenge yourself. They should paint a vision that shows you as part of something bigger than yourself. To strive for more every day, for better, for stronger; that is always the goal. The best leaders know how to make everyone get out of their seats and take notice. Motivation isn’t a pat on the back or a high-five, motivation is a fire that is ignited deep in your belly, soars through your veins and stimulates every sensation. Real leaders create the spark.
All too often, however, motivation is confused with affirmation. Motivation isn’t when…
you tell someone how great they are
you say “good job”
you give praise in front of peers
you send a note of appreciation
That’s not motivation. That’s recognition. That’s affirmation. It’s all very good, but not necessarily motivating. What motivates each individual can be a very personal thing, but there are some universal truths about people and being human that will always be true. True motivation comes from a leader clearly articulating 3 things: a challenge, a vision, a goal.
We’re problem solvers. All of us. It’s an innate quality we are all born with. Give us a puzzle, and we’ll spend hours trying to solve it. When we’re bored, our minds wander. We get distracted, we lose focus and steam. Challenge us. Stimulate our brains and jump-start our cerebral cortex.
Why are we even here? Why do we get up in the morning, spend our entire day away from the people we love, and come home to finish writing our last emails? Why? Because, there is something we are all striving for, a vision that we’ve all bought into. A vision is powerful. It’s the north star, beacon of hope, the thing that centers us all. Everyone needs a strong vision to understand that even those mundane daily tasks will lead to a brighter future.
What are we truly striving towards? Not long term, but close enough to make it tangible. Tell us what our milestones are, what it will take to get us there, and what the result will be once it has been attained. Give us a goal and we will strive to hit it.
We need to know that everything we’re doing is because we are eventually trying to get to something that will feel rewarding. Something that will make us feel accomplished and motivate us to continue on to the next goal. That’s what life is about – short spurts of greatness that ultimately motivate us to do more.
While motivation varies from person to person, these are universal truths. Stimulating the mind by proposing a challenge, clearly articulating a vision and setting attainable goals are foundational elements to motivating people. Focusing on these three elements first will lead you and your team on a path to creating a truly motivating environment.
By_Alexandra Foutch, MBA
Partner, Global Client Lead for General Motors
Follow me on Twitter @Social_Class
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