Why Executive Leaders Cannot Motivate Anyone

Why Executive Leaders Cannot Motivate Anyone 150 150 Jennifer Ledet

In other words, I am responsible to you, as participants to provide information and a safe, interactive learning environment. But, I am not responsible for what you do with that information. You are responsible for your own actions. You can decide whether you will actively participate. You will decide whether you will actually take action on what you learn.

The same approach should be applied by leaders, executives, and managers. You are responsible to your team – to lead, guide, and coach them, but ultimately, each team member will choose what actions he or she will take.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, I have a newsflash for executive leaders:

You cannot motivate anyone.

You cannot put motivation into another team member or employee. And that’s because all people are already motivated. You, as an executive leader, are charged with tapping into that internal, intrinsic motivation. Rather than trying to put something in that you think was left out, your job is to draw out what was left in.

How to tap into internal motivation:

Get to know the individuals on your team. Before diving deep, you may start off with some basic conversation. Since that is easier said than done for some, check out this article to help you get started.

Find out what their motivations are. For some, it might be money. For others, it might be recognition.  Some people get a huge amount of satisfaction from helping others. Lots of people enjoy forming a lifestyle where they put family first and are able to spend lots of time with those who matter most in their lives. Others thrive on challenge.

Don’t ignore that all people are tuned into the radio station WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. When trying to influence performance and productivity, help them to see how they can get something beneficial for themselves.

Now you know that, we as executive leaders, unfortunately can’t motivate people. But we can influence, inspire, and persuade them to greater performance.

Your turn:

Have you had any success tapping into your team members’ internal motivations? I’d like to hear your perspective on this important topic. Share your experiences with us!

For more resources on leadership and employee engagement, be sure to sign up for our monthly Ezine and you will receive our report: “7 of Your Biggest People Problems…Solved.”

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.

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