Money makes for a great scorecard, but a terrible motivator. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way when I was a new leader almost a decade ago. As a small startup, we assembled a team of what could best be described as a rag-tag group of people. Think The Bad News Bears, but older. And I had no clue how to motivate them.
Where Motivation Truly Comes From
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller (TWEET THAT)
When I first began to lead others in the marketplace, I thought that everyone was like me. Money was the scorecard and it was also the motivator. Boy, was I wrong!
I’d struggled for almost a year to find better ways to motivate our team and push them to new levels of excellence. I used mostly financial incentives, with little or no results. Then, we held a company retreat.
It’s been twenty-one years since Sam Walton passed away.
His Ten Rules for Building a Business are still posted on Wal-Mart’s web site…but are they living up to them?
Sam Walton’s Ten Rules for Building a Business are found in his book, Sam Walton: Made In America.
Let’s look at each of them one by one and see where Wal-Mart stands today. Regardless of whether they still practice these principles, it doesn’t change the truth of them. They are excellent primers for all business leaders.
1. Commit to your business.
As a leader, you have to believe in your business more than anyone else does. If you aren’t the leader, believing in the business more than anyone else does goes a long way towards becoming a leader.
Commitment means passion, intensity, and willingness to sacrifice for the business.
The most powerful words are always the simplest.
For instance, the most powerful word in leadership is “believe.” That is a word we all know, yet we rarely use it with our team. You can read more about that powerful word here.
In his best-selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (I have read it three times now and highly recommend it), social psychologist Robert Cialdini tells us about the power of this word. In it, he shares a study by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer that shows the almost irrational effect the word “because” has on the hearer:
A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favor of people waiting in line to use a library copying machine: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush? The effectiveness of this request-plus-reason was nearly total: Ninety-four percent of those asked let her skip ahead of them in line.
Compare this success rate to the results when she made the request only: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine? Under those circumstances, only 60 percent of those asked complied. At first glance, it appears that the crucial difference between the two requests was the additional information provided by the words, “because I’m in a rush.”
Making art in any form takes bravery. Are you brave enough to make it? (Click to Tweet) That is the question that I tackled with Todd Liles and Dan Black on Todd’s latest podcast. I asked you for your questions in my previous post, You Are an Artist, Now Go Act Like One, and you submitted […]
Don’t settle for Ishmael when you’ve got an Isaac coming. WARNING: I’m about to get my Bible on, so if that isn’t your thing, it’s cool. Come back tomorrow. But I suggest reading this anyway. Don’t settle for Ishmael when you’ve got an Isaac coming. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share […]
Distractions and depressions are a normal part of a productive person’s life. Someone recently asked: The first thing you have to do is realize that this is normal. No one is fully motivated, pumped up, and focused 24/7/365. It’s impossible. I don’t know what you are going through in life, but if there is something […]
What is your focus trigger? Growing up, as I’ve mentioned before, I played competitive golf. I always knew the importance of a pre-shot routine, but it wasn’t until college that I actually worked on it and made it something that truly set me up to focus on the shot. When I got to college, I […]
Competition is a powerful fuel for motivation.
As I mentioned recently, I ran my first 10k race. Without that race pending on my calendar for three months, I would currently be able to run about 17 consecutive feet…maybe. I would weigh about 20 pounds more. I would not be waking up before 6:00am every day and writing. I would generally feel like crap and be a lot less productive.
Why did I finish the race? Why did I train so hard? Why am I now targeting at least one more race this year and a few next year, including setting a goal to run the half marathon next fall in less than 1:54? Because I am competitive. I was not going to fail.
Continue Reading and Comment
One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to be oblivious to how he/she makes a team member feel.
Let me restate that: One of the biggest mistakes I made as a leader was to be completely oblivious to how my team members felt.
My friend and former colleague, Hunter Ingram, once told me that it wasn’t until something he said to a team member made her cry that he realized the magnitude of his position as CEO. He was suddenly aware that he had great power and began to wield that power more carefully.
I was 28 at the time and the world, I thought, still revolved around me, so I pocketed that little nugget and moved on with life. Thankfully I still remember that lesson.
Around that time I had just about perfected the art of making team members cry. The sad thing is that I was completely oblivious to it. Sure, I knew that I sucked as a leader, but I had no concept of the impact I was having on their lives and their emotions.