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.”
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