Junk Food Motivation
Fear, pressure, coercion, rewards, or nagging get results but undermine leadership.
Threats or bribes motivate conformity. Like junk food, they feel good going down but cause regret later.
“You cannot be intrinsically and extrinsically motivated on the same thing at the same time.” Susan Fowler
The surprising news is people are always motivated. Your job is to help people tap into their positive intrinsic motivations.
“A lot of the things that leaders constantly do to motivate people are having the opposite effect.” Susan Fowler.
People do what they do for their reasons, not yours.
Autonomy: the need for our choices to be our choices, not someone elses.* Every time leaders use power to pressure conformity they undermine autonomy. You may get the job done but you have to resort to power next time.
Relatedness: “our need to feel connected to others without concerns for ulterior motives…to feel we are contributing to something greater than ourselves.”
Competence: the feeling that you currently have, or are developing, what it takes to achieve desired results.*
Motivation is about their internal needs not your drive for results.
“One of the great opportunities you have as a leader is to help your people find meaning, contribute to a social purpose, and experience healthy interpersonal relationships at work.” Susan Fowler
Meat and potatoes motivation:
The real issues of motivation lie inside the people on your team. Leadership’s opportunity is getting to know people and, more importantly, helping people know themselves so they can tap into their “optimal motivational outlook.”
Start by asking teammates, “Why are you working on this project, attending this meeting, or leading this team?” What’s important about this?
Your job is creating environments where feelings of autonomy, relatedness, and competence flourish.
Listen in to my conversation with Susan Fowler (3:57):
What motivates you?
Pre-order Susan Fowler’s book: “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does” (It’s transformational)