Words of Wisdom: Better Leadership

You lead better by asking questions than by giving directions


Motivation and performance

“How do I motivate my team?!”

A questions I have been asked a lot recently and a question which I have been ruminating

It appears that this is a topic on many peoples minds, I google it today and it appears that there are 10,700,000 results to that question WOW!

Which got me thinking – “Why is this such a popular question and why is it such a seemingly complex topic which requires 10 million + potential solutions?”

Below I will give my view on why its a popular question and why its a seemingly complex topic to answer, AND, I will share a few factors leaders should take into account when asking the same question :0)

Why is this such a popular question?

I imagine its down to the following (simplified)- The world of business is changing at a furious rate! Globalisation of business, the rapid and rather frankly scary assault of technology and A.I, limitation of available talent and push for cheaper goods and services means that leaders need to get more out of their teams without ideally paying more. Motivation is therefor the key

Why is this such a complex topic?

When you talk about motivation you are really talking about needs and emotions; two subjects which on the surface seem easy to compute – “I need to be recognised” and “I cry when I get upset” (I really do) – but are really as intangible as “the ether in which our world floats” (source: Think and Grow Rich, introduction page 26) don’t know if that works but love the expression :0)

The reason for this? No two people are alike, most people aren’t truly aware of their needs, and most people aren’t honest when it comes to sharing what they truly need (this is often caused by poor experiences and/or not knowing how to share honestly as well as  a host of other drivers that impact this behavior)

As a leader, how do I make this less complex?

You’ll be glad to know that its actually a lot easier than it appears. All you need is to understand a few fundamentals of  motivational theory. Once you grasp these fundamentals its only requires a few steps to create an action plan (I can help you with this). I’ve done the hard work and studies up on the motivational theory and distilled it in way that is easy to understand.

Note – There are many theories to draw from and I have selected two (Vrooms Expectancy theory and Hertzbergs Two Factor Theory) Why these two? Because I’ve found that they explain in the simplest way what drives people, whilst at the same time providing a framework against which to start creating a motivational plan. They also fit other theories into them which creates validity. With all that said, lets take a look at the fundamentals of motivation

Fundamentals of motivation

In order for an organisation to grow consistently and profitably it is essential that all members of the team are purposefully productive and high performers. Productivity and Performance are the result of two factors:

Motivation “The desire to take a specific action” + Ability “The necessary talent, skill or proficiency to successfully complete a critical task or activity”.

As a business leader – to whose benefit it is that workplace productivity and performance is maximised at all times – It is important to be aware of the following from the outset

  1. Although ability is critical to performance, once a satisfactory level of ability has been established, it is motivation (will and a deep burning desire) to reach for ‘greatness’ that will always determine the level of productivity and performance
  2. Motivation is impacted by a number of factors including but not limited to:
    1. The need value. If the need is more an “I would like” or “I wish” than “I cannot do without” then the individual will be less likely to put effort into achieving the need
    2. The reward value. If the reward is not perceived to fulfil the need, the individual will be less likely to put effort into achieving the need
    3. The achievement value. If the perceived effort required to achieve the need are greater (pain) than the need being fulfilled (gain) they will not put in the effort.
    4. The effort for performance value. If they do not believe that the required effort will result in the desired performance, effort will dwindle.
    5. Reward for performance value. if the person does not believe that their performance will be rewarded favourably then performance will dwindle
    6. The Environment. The feel of the workplace (physical and emotional environment) which creates ‘the culture’. Note: Although these environmental factors have very little impact on motivation (and if they do example pay they are short term [see Adams Equity Theory]. Environmental impactors  include but are not limited to
      1. Job title
      2. Job security
      3. Pay
      4. Rewards
      5. Work conditions
      6. Benefits
    1. Needs typically fall into the following types
      1. Recognition (for work well done)
      2. Growth (as a person or as a professional)
      3. Challenge (difficulty of work)
      4. Contribution (A bigger purpose)
      5. Responsibility (sense of ownership)
      6. Belonging (importance to organisation)
      7. Flexibility
    2. The biggest contributors to poor environment are lack of clarity (people do not know the part they are playing and what is expected of them) and standards (challenging but attainable goals are not set and people are not held accountable for the delivery of their commitments. there is an inconsistency in the application of standards)
    3. Leadership as the authority has the biggest influence on the environment

That’s as simple as it gets

How do you keep your teams engaged to ensure maximum performance and productivity?


Words of Wisdom: Take charge

Great Leaders know things will get better because they know they will make things better


Negotiating with Influence: Irrefutable Law Eight

What is the difference between Persuasion (Influence) and Manipulation? This is the question I ask at the start of each of my Influence and Persuasion Workshop –

A question which sits at the very crux of being a person who negotiates with influence.

A question worth serious consideration and contemplation for any individual who wants to have more influence over others.

The difference? Strangely enough my research and observation of countless interactions in business and life has found that it in fact has very little to do with the persuasion/influencing technique used and everything to do with the observation and perception of the person on the receiving end of your ‘persuasion’

Pause a moment and think back over the past to a time where you were on the receiving end of somebody asking something of you. A time where although you said yes, you still sat there after the fact with a sense that you had been hoodwinked/taken advantage of. There was nothing sinister about the request, it was all above board however you just knew that you had been ‘manipulated’

This is why Irrefutable Law Eight came into being.

Irrefutable Law Eight – You need to HAVE Influence

Over the past two weeks I have shared with you my first Seven Irrefutable Laws of Negotiating with Influence. Seven Laws which I know (from my own application as well as testimonials of others) when applied with focus and positive intention result in: More Yes’s; Better, stronger more committed relationships and ultimately improved outcomes for yourself and the important people in your life.

This is where I need to share a cautionary tale – As I started applying the first Seven Laws  I still wasn’t getting the results I really wanted. At first I couldn’t figure out where the problem lay until I came across a book (which I share in the tips section) and all became clear. Unfortunately I realised the fundamental problem was that because I didn’t have influence, the application of influence resulted more often than not came across as manipulation

I realise at this point (from watching audiences who I spoken to and shared this message with) that as you read this you are probably scratching your head in confusion thinking “He says I need to influence but because I don’t have influence my influence will risk coming across as manipulation?!”

Write the following down and commit yourself to understanding this

“Being Persuasive is good, but having Influence is magic!”

Whats the key difference? Lets take a look at dictionary definitions of the following words

Persuade/Influence: (verb) The act of causing a person/people to believe or do something

Influence: (Adjective) A power (especially one that operates without any direct or apparent effort) which affects a person to do something

In other words to truly be able to negotiate with influence, you need to also have influence. You will be glad to know that we all are born with influence! Not only that but we all have the ability to develop our influence (refer to Irrefutable Law’s Three and Six for guidance on how this occurs)

Lets take a look at a few tips on how to become a person of influence

  • Tip One – Read the book ‘Becoming a person of influence‘ by John Maxwell and the late Jim Dornan. This is one of my core development tools which I read and continuously work on developing every year. In it you will find the blue print on how to truly become a person of influence
  • Tip Two – Start developing your ‘expert’ influence! ‘Expert’ influence is achieved through becoming an expert in your chosen field. This includes a journey and plan of continuous development (formal and/or informal) focusing on the advancement of learning and application of knowledge and skills help me develop my Expert Influence
  • Tip Three – Become a value adder! If you look back to Irrefutable Law Three – Add value you will come across a quote which read “You are not paid for your time, but for the value you bring” To truly be a person of influence do everything in your power to add value to the relationships you seek to build. This could include but is not limited to volunteering on projects and under promising/over delivering

With the application of these and may other tips I have slowly but surely started becoming a person of influence and along with the application of the first seven laws am continuously improving as a negotiator with influence

Tomorrow Negotiating with Influence – Irrefutable Law Nine



Words of Wisdom: Lead the way

Leaders do not go where the path is already laid, but go where there is no path and through their works create a trail