The fifth and final attribute of positive leaders everywhere deals most directly with what powerful positive leaders do on a daily basis. They work hard to create a motivated workforce and they do it not by some grand design but rather by working with individual men and women, whether one-to-one or in groups.
How often have you heard the complaint that “people don’t want to work anymore!” or, “Our employees don’t appreciate their jobs!”? How many times have you heard yourself making similar comments?
We have all felt this way and each of us has experienced the frustrations that result from a poorly motivated workforce and from our apparent inability to turn the situation around.
We categorically reject the hypothesis that people do not want to work, in favor of an alternate idea: that people don’t know how to work and be productive. It is a subtle but important distinction. We submit that people can be taught. The challenge to leadership is to teach these things and to ignite the internal motivation that exists in each of us to learn and to excel.
Human motivation is a complex subject. For all of the attention motivation receives its critical role is underappreciated. As complicated as the subject of human motivation may be, motivating people or, more appropriately, igniting a person’s internal motivation is a relatively simple challenge. The key to human motivation in the work place, or anywhere else, is to make people feel important.
Everyone wants to feel important. Leaders who effectively convey that their people are truly vital to the organization will have a dynamic, energetic, and motivated team of people.
Examine your own experience with your favorite supervisor or teacher. You felt a special relationship with your mentor, a real kinship. You knew you were liked and you did your best work while they were involved in your life. What did they do differently than the other teachers and supervisors who clutter your memory?
These leaders treated you as if you were special. They liked you; they remembered your name; they listened to you; they valued your opinion; they showed appreciation for your efforts; they smiled at you; they treated you with respect; they trusted you; they challenged you; they tried to help you do a better job; they provided you with clear expectations; they gave you continuous and ongoing feedback; they let you make mistakes without fear of retribution or humiliation; they encouraged you to try again; they made sure you received full recognition for your contributions; they expected much from you and so much more.
They worked hard to make you feel important. It was a genuine display of affection. And, it was easy because they liked people. Positive leaders genuinely care about and believe in the capabilities of the men and women in their organization.
There will always be a few unproductive people, no matter how capable their supervisor, but they are the exception, not the norm. The majority of employees can and will be both motivated and productive if you are an effective leader. When they are not, the responsibility is yours, not society’s. You recruited them, you hired them, you train and evaluated them. It may well be that they came to your shop poorly prepared to live up to your expectations but they were the best of the lot. After you signed them on you accepted responsibility for their performance and outcomes.
As a leader, the only meaningful measure of your own performance is how well you take this raw material and mold it into a well-trained, well-focused, and highly motivated work force.
Learn how to be a positive leader and how to create an environment that fosters the internal motivation of your people. It is easy once you acquire the genuine belief that your people are your most important resource and you communicate that fact to them through your words, your actions, and through the rules, structure, and culture of your organization.
Make people feel important!