Is there a secret to motivating others?

October 31 2013
It’s a classic conundrum. If the only really successful form of motivation is intrinsic (where a person motivates themselves) how can leaders effectively motivate anyone else at all?

This is often a real challenge for new managers, as they find themselves having to achieve success through a team’s effort for the first time in their career.The transformational/transactional leadership model actually addresses this very problem. In a way it’s all about motivation.When you use transformational leadership, you tap into people’s desire to contribute for something beyond purely selfish reasons. And if you want to captures their ‘self-interest’, transactional leadership works very nicely. So if you can do both, at the right times, that might just be the secret to motivation.

Why be transformational?

You can use Transformational styles when you want to tap into people’s ‘desire to contribute’ and have the organisation succeed. When people see these behaviours and characteristics, it inspires them and often leads to unexpectedly high performance.

And how..

  • Drive a strong sense of mission and purpose.
  • Be ethical – consider the moral consequences and human impact of decisions.
  • Talk optimistically and enthusiastically.
  • Paint a compelling vision of the future.
  • Build trust by being seen to go beyond self-interest for the good of the team.
  • Challenge and stretch people to be innovative.
  • Spending time teaching and coaching to help others develop.
  • Treat people as unique individuals rather than just members of a group. Respect their specific needs and values.

If transformational leadership does all this, why be transactional?

Use transactional styles to tap into people’s desire to attract benefits and personal success. When people see the following (depending on the environment and the individual) it excites them and leads to solid performance up to expectations.

  • Specifying KPIs, targets and related rewards.
  • Doing ‘deals’  – offering assistance in exchange for effort.
  • Being clear about who should achieve what targets.
  • Addressing under-performance.

The transactional leadership model proposes that followers are motivated by rewards and punishment. It’s a system of quid pro quo – reward/pay for effort. If a person does something well then they can expect to be rewarded. If they do something poorly they can expect to be punished.

Get the mix right

For a leader, it’s all about getting the mix right.Some leaders tend to over-rely on transactional styles. They only ever get people performing up to expected standards at best.Some leaders fail to even do this, and end up de-motivating everyone by their absence and apparent lack of care.

The best leaders help trigger the intrinsic motivation of their teams and individuals, by showing the direction, providing the resources and support and leading the way with their own dedicated efforts. They also know when and how to carefully and ethically appeal to people’s self-interest if that’s what it takes.The great secret about this – you can learn to increase your use of transformational leadership. Get in touch to find out more.