A common dilemma that managers and leaders face is to answer the question: “is it my role to motivate or to inspire?” Although both terms have a definite distinction, they are quite related.
Motivation is something that comes from within. As a manager or leader, you cannot motivate a person to do something, especially something that they aren’t interested in doing. Motivation is personal.
As a manager or leader, what you can do is to create an environment that promotes self-motivation, based on precisely what motivates an individual– whether it is money, responsibility, trust, empowerment, or something else.
And that’s where inspiration comes into the picture, in creating that environment. Inspiration is an external element. It is the stimulus that lights up an individual’s motivators and sets them into action.
Think of Martin Luther King. He was one of the most inspirational leaders of our time. His words and actions connected with people’s internal motivators, especially on social justice. He clicked with people and inspired them with a vision of the future, and then showed them how they could be a part of making that future a reality. Did he inspire everyone? Certainly not! There were many whose internal motivators didn’t connect or align with his vision. There was probably nothing he could do to have them take action.
Think of some of the great energising speakers or leaders that you’ve encountered. How did they inspire or motivate you?
As a leader or manager, one of your roles is to create an environment that inspires individuals to connect their own inner motivators to a collective vision. Here is an example. An executive in the finance sector mentioned that the collective vision of the team was to provide high levels of customer service while selling financial products and services to customers.
One of the team members was not meeting his goals. To motivate him, the executive kept explaining to him that he was leaving money on the table, incentive money, when he failed to sell additional financial services.
I asked the executive to tell me about the individual, and I quickly understood why this method wasn’t working. She told me that the individual spent a lot time volunteering in the church and enjoyed spending time with family and friends; he had been with the organisation a long time and really loved to socialize with the individuals he worked with. I explained to the executive that it didn’t sound like money was a major incentive for this person and that it might be time to stop trying to motivate and start trying to inspire.
To inspire him, she needed to tap into his unique motivators, so I asked her to experiment by talking to the team member about the future he was helping his customers create such as a secure retirement and savings for school fees.
Within a month, the team member was meeting and in some cases exceeding his goals. When the executive stopped trying to motivate with what she thought would work and what motivated her, and started trying to inspire the team member and tap into their own motivators, they found a common ground. The executive created a vision and environment where the team member could be self-motivated and thrive.
What motivates the people that you lead? How can you inspire them by igniting those motivators and linking them to your company’s vision? Find these answers and you will all succeed together.
Ayoade, PCC, is an Executive and Leadership Coach and CEO of EZ37 Solutions Limited, a Human Resource and Management Consultancy Firm, focused on providing innovative and impactful solutions. For more information on this topic or to enrol for the next virtual ICF accredited coach certification training commencing on 27 June 2021, Contact: [email protected] or +234 813 089 8773