With the Commonwealth Games on I’ve been interested to read about what motivates the athletes to do what they do. Adam Peaty suffered a shock defeat on Sunday and yet this was the kick he needed to motivate him to success and a gold medal. He needed to keep going. Motivation is key if you are to push through in the tough times. What drives you as a leader is also key in you becoming as effective as you can be in your leadership.
Motivation should speak to calling and purpose. There is an interesting story in the Bible about David who became a great king over Israel. He had held onto the promise of becoming king for a long time. Just before he did, he suffered the severest of lows with his own men wanting to stone him. He could have given up, but he kept going and in the next few days took up the role of king. His lowest point, it turned out, was just before his promotion.
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
What is your motivation to lead?
As leaders motivation is key. In his book, The Motive, Patrick Lencioni sets out what he sees as two different motivations:
“At the most fundamental level, there are only two motives that drive people to become a leader. First, they want to serve others, to do whatever is necessary to bring about something good for the people they lead […] The second basic reason […] is that they want to be rewarded. They see leadership as the prize for years of hard work and are drawn by its trappings: attention, status, power, money.”
Leadership Is a Responsibility
As you think about these two different motivations. The one is about ‘me’ and the other is about ‘we.’ Both motives will be based on an internal set of beliefs and a mindset, but only one will lead to the possibility of unlocking the potential in your team.
It is easy to understand the person who has worked hard in their career and sees their leadership position, along with the perks that go with it, as something they have earned. However, if that is all that being in this place of leadership is about it misses the point. Leadership is not a reward it is a responsibility which if carried out well will lead to a team which will perform at a far higher level.
The reason you do something will affect the way you carry out your role. The time when it is most likely to reveal itself is at a time of stress or pressure.
There are many challenges facing organisations and teams. If your motivation is the status, the money, or the recognition. Then when big challenges arise your lack of clear purpose in leading may undermine your leadership.
If, however, your motive, as Patrick Lencioni puts it, is to ‘serve others’ and to work for their highest good, then even when the going gets tough that motivation will serve you. Nothing has changed for you whether good times or challenging times. In the challenging times it may cause you to dig deeper, but such is the posture of someone who is willing to get into the trench with their team and keep fighting.
Looking in from the outside it is harder to see the true motivations of the leader. The pressure reveals what is going on inside. The crisis reveals the leader as they really are. What will serve leaders in those times is a perspective focused on others. This will orient any leader towards solutions as they pose questions around how they can move forward and manage this challenge.
As you enter the challenges the next few months will hold let me encourage you to keep going.
Thanks to Ruffa Jane Reyes for the photo.