Tough Leadership Questions

 In Leadership Development

One of the most common questions I get asked is – how do you really motivate people? Instead of answering this again, I want to suggest that we approach this just like any other everyday interest. In other words, START WITH THE SOURCE: your people. There are many reasons this all-too-easy solution to the question gets avoided – most leaders want to know the answer, but aren’t willing to do the work. And if leaders start asking their employees, well naturally, employees are going to expect their leaders to do something differently now that they know the answer.

Essentially, asking the question can be a leader’s way of pretending he cares, when really, he only wants to know the answer if the answer equals something easy. Are you doubting that this could actually be the case? Well, let me ask you this. When you were in school, and your professor did a very poor job explaining an assignment’s directions, would you approach the professor to ask for more details? If you really cared about your grade, you are going to seek the clarity that’s currently lacking, so that you can exceed the expectations of the professor. Let me give you one more example. Pretend you’re a bartender, and a large group orders a drink that you don’t recognize. Now, if tips are your main source of income at this job, and you really care about delivering good customer service, you are going to ask this group more about the drink, so that you can make it how they want it. Right? It’s simple. In any other environment, when we really don’t know the answer to something that we really want to know- WE ASK THE SOURCE.

It’s common sense. Now, I don’t mean to be hard on the leaders. I’m not saying everyone fits into this stereotype. I am simply suggesting that if you really want to know – it’s going to show. You’re going to seek the solution from the right source. Are you wondering how to do this well?

Approach the team members that seem to be lacking motivation. Tell them that you care and want to do your part in pushing them forward. And then, ask them what would be helpful for them. Start a conversation, so that your team members know that you’re the type of leader that doesn’t pretend to know it all, but does genuinely care about figuring it out together. This approach is inquisitive, collaborative and non-threatening. It’s also quite simple.

This post could apply to many questions – first, ask yourself, do I really want to know the answer? And secondly, if I do, who is the subject in question, and might that subject be the very source of my solution?


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