How to Motivate Others to Commit
Frustrated leaders ask, “How can I convince others to do what I want them to do?”
Why is commitment so low?
Reluctance to commit is natural and healthy. Overcoming reluctance is part of leadership. The key issues of motivating people to commit are internal.
People do what they want, not what you want.
You can push weak, needy, or fragile people into conformity. But, once you push someone, you have to keep pushing.
Conformity isn’t commitment.
Think of your own experience. What do you do when you’re pushed? If you conform, it’s often due to fear.
You commit for your reasons, not theirs.
How do you respond when someone asks you to commit to something?
When someone asks you to commit to something, you ask yourself questions. It’s the way you justify saying yes or no.
- Does it matter?
- Do I want to?
- Can I make meaningful contribution?
- Am I happy with what I’m currently doing?
- Do I have time and resources?
- How long is the commitment?
- Will I enjoy it?
Bonus: What’s the win?
Your vision of the future is great, but if you don’t answer their questions, people won’t commit. They hold back if it doesn’t matter to them.
Stop talking to them like they are you.
The issue is their motivation, not yours. Speak to their values, drives, and questions.
You don’t convince. They convince themselves.
The days of “commanding commitment” are coming to an end.
The most important aspect of calling for commitment is understanding others. Find alignment between what they want and what you want. Forced conformity may work for awhile.
Successful motivators become absorbed with others, not themselves.
What questions do you need answered before you commit to new projects, programs, or initiatives?
How does this program, project or initiative fit in with my existing responsibilities and/or with my values and personal/professional aspirations?
Thanks Lori. KaPow!
Great advice as always. I work with a number of attorneys, and it is in their nature and training to mitigate risk and be very cautious. I’ve learned to trust their process, but to be persistent on those issues where I know movement is required. I offer them context and data and understanding, and their growing confidence in me has allowed us to move more quickly than before.
Thanks Roy. The ability to understand and accept others is foundational to connecting with them. There’s a difference between being adversarial and advocating. Cheers
I run a small foundation at a state university and we’re always seeking additional funds to build our endowment. When speaking with potential donors, it’s good to always remember “It’s not about me.” Rather it’s about connecting with what the donor wants and pointing out places of overlap between our mission and the donor’s passion.
Good stuff today, Dan. I’ve passed it along to my team.
Thanks Jon. One of the critical mistakes leaders of non-profits make is focusing too much on themselves. It’s nature because of passion for the cause. But, I believer focusing on others aids recruitment and contributions. Best wishes
I would be so grateful to understand what motivates individuals I work with. For me, I do ask a lot of those questions listed above…but I also ask myself if there is a puzzle that needs solving, or if it will become infinitely repetitive work. I like figuring stuff out…which is why I enjoy the types of projects I have worked on in the past. If it requires repetitive work, I would only agree if there were a finite number of repetitions. I know that is not a common motivator.
Thanks Dunk. Love that insight into what makes you tick. … love that insight into what makes you tick.
I bet you are great at starting something, creating a system, and then turning it over to someone else.
Please name the skills/talents/resources I possess that you believe will be most helpful to the success of this new initiative/program/project? “Conformity isn’t commitment,” what a great remark! I believe many managers, particularly those managers not fortunate enough to be also leaders, tend to mistake conformity for commitment.
Thanks Ms. Neige. Sadly, many leaders/managers just settle for conformity. In the process, people loose passion.
Respect is commanded and not demanded. to fall in line a leader has to convince the people on his thought of action, once it happens conformity becomes an option by choice not by force, people are motivated and seek their goal to fulfill not others and they look for it, it is the responsibility of the leader to echo the sentiment of mutual purpose so that it ignites the spark of followership not the conflict. conflict is raised when there is difference of opinion and goal, a leader has to generate the purpose of achieving the goal and spark the desire to follow his action plan.
Thanks Rajesh. I really like “mutual purpose” … nicely said. I’ll follow you if it means I get where I want to go, too. Or, if we are going in the same direction.
~People commit for their reasons, not yours – I think it speaks for itself!
Thanks Sergio. Glad you like.
This blog post helps me further understand my instinctual resistance (not in the “War of Art” sense of resistance) to some aspects of the ADKAR change management model. Just the term change management rings a of “I don’t get people’s value beyond being cogs in my vast machine for world domination”
I agree with several folks above, “conformity is not commitment” may be one of your best quotes for the year.
“Conformity is not commitment” is a great way to put it. For some reason anytime I think about conformity I immediately think of “The Dead Poet’s Society” when Robin Williams taught his class in the manner he wanted too. He was committed but he didn’t conform because if he would have conformed then he would have sacrificed his commitment to provide his students with the best education he could provide.
It’s relevant in todays world, especially those of us who blog, because people don’t want to conform. That’s why the internet is such a haven for people to be creative, because they don’t have too. If you can provide value to the people who don’t want to conform and want to be taught something new and applicable to their lives – or just flat out entertain them – then you win. And you will receive their commitment to whatever it is you offer of value. Great post.
Generally, I agree with your statement that “People do what they want, not what you want.” I would argue that there is one exception here. If the person highly respects you as a leader then may do what you want even if they really don’t want to…simply to please you. While this is unhealthy for them and the church, this is even more reason we need to make sure that folks are serving in areas they are both gifted in and enjoy. Serving to please a leader they look up to will only last so long, and it may result in resenting that leader in the end. Great post!