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We are now talking about leading others. Here is the start of Chapter 6 from my e-book, Leadership for New Managers: Book Two:
Core leader competencies fall into there are three categories: leading others (this chapter), developing the environment (Chapter 7), and solving problems (Chapter 9). These categories and their subsets represent the roles and functions of leader/managers. Leader/managers can develop these competencies by following a systematic and gradual approach, from mastering individual
competencies to applying them in concert and tailoring them to the situation at hand.
Motivation supplies the will and initiative to do what is necessary to accomplish a goal. Motivation comes from within, but others’actions and words affect it. A leader/manager’s role in motivation is to understand the needs and desires of associates, to align and elevate individual goals into team goals, and to inspire associates to accomplish those larger goals. Some people have high levels of internal motivation to get a job done, while others need more reassurance, positive reinforcement, and feedback.
One of the best ways to motivate is to recognize and reward good performance. Leader/managers that recognize individual and team accomplishments shape positive motivation and actions for the future. Recognizing individuals and teams in front of superiors and others gives those contributors an increased sense of worth. This encourages associates to sustain and improve performance. I
covered this subject in my chapter on Gummy Bear Leadership in Leadership for New Managers.
Leader/managers should not overlook giving credit to associates. Sharing credit has enormous
payoffs in terms of building trust and motivation. A leader who understands how individuals feel about team accomplishments will have a better basis for motivating individuals based on their interests. I firmly believe that leader/managers should never take credit for accomplishment but always credit their followers. They should always take the blame for their associates’ failures. After all, when associates fail, it is a failure in leadership.
Positive reinforcement such as tangible incentives (monetary rewards or time off) as well as intangible rewards (praise or recognition) can enhance motivation. Leader/managers can use healthy competition to renew intensity, such as recognition for the most improved score, the top five finishes, or those working together best. Use punishment when there is an immediate need to discontinue dangerous or otherwise undesirable behavior. It can send a clear message about
behavioral expectations and the consequences of violating those expectations. One caution is that punishment should be used sparingly and only in extreme cases because it can lead to resentment. Punishment is always administered one-on-one and never to a group.
Leader/managers can never exceed goals with negative (punishment) motivation. I learned this in the Army. Every soldier is required to score at least 60% on the annual physical fitness test. Units tend to compete for the most soldiers passing. If a unit commander states that he/she will punish any soldier failing to score 60%, he/she will discover that most soldiers will score the minimum 60% and quit. However, if the unit commander uses positive (reward) motivation for any soldier that achieves a higher score than the previous year, including more than 100%, he/she will see significant improvement across the board. Some soldiers will exceed 100%. Associates, like
soldiers, quickly learn how to avoid punishment rather than exceed goals.
This also happened with the Soviet Olympic Team. Coaches would cut athletes who failed to show routine improvement. The athletes soon learned to show only incremental improvements rather than large improvements that could not be sustained over time.
Leader/managers motivate and inspire others to work toward a common goal. All of the core leader competencies, especially leading others, involve motivation. Motivating entails more than simply passing along orders. Leader/managers must not assume that associates will do as they are told without knowing the purpose (the why), without direction (not micromanagement) and without motivation (the desire to do it).
Motivation is the essential element of leader/management. Motivation refers to how leaders create and relay their messages, behaviors, and attitudes to affect the intentions, behaviors, and attitudes of another person or group of people. Motivation depends upon relationships where leader/managers build positive rapport and mutual trust, making associates more willing to support requests. Examples include showing personal interest in an associate’s well-being, offering praise, and understanding an associate’s perspective. Motivation increases when associates understand how their role relates to larger and more important outcomes. Leader/managers have choices in methods of influence based on audience, intent, and expected reaction.
Leader/managers can draw on a variety of methods to motivate others and can use one or more
methods to fit to the specifics of any situation. They must use the appropriate method to motivate others.