Motivating Yourself to Lead Others – What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

“To succeed you need to find something to hold on to, something to motive you, something to inspire you.” Tony Dorsett

Recently, I attended a series of lectures on the topic of motivation and how individual behaviors impact team dynamics. The lecturer covered all the traditional approaches to motivation theory from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, to McClelland’s Achievement Theory, through Vroom’s Expectancy Theory. We discussed the shift from the early 20th century studies of motivation which were Organizational-based (top-down) to the current thinking on Team-based dynamics (bottom-up).

All of these theories are interesting to study, and I have seen examples of each used over the course of my career. But as I sat down to write this piece, I had to ask when it comes to managing teams “what motivates me to motivate others?”

As an extrovert, people motive me – all kinds of people, the more variety the better. I find energy in working with diverse groups that include mixes of race, gender, ethnicity, age, personality, cognitive style, education, and professional experience. I once led a successful project with a team that were located on five different continents. Getting a group that is so diverse in its composition to work together is a challenge, but the output of energy, ideas and solutions that comes from such a group, makes the effort rewarding.

Also, I am motivated by seeing a group of people push beyond their limits to accomplish something that did not seem possible, and to do it as a team. There is no better feeling than working with a group and helping them to see solutions, where before, all they saw were problems. Success usually comes from a team working together towards a common goal that an individual cannot manage. Henry Ford wrote, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Motivating people to work together towards a solution is hard, but the rewards are breathtaking.

Finally, it is motivating to help individuals find that “Aha! Moment.” You know, that instance where there is suddenly clarity, and a solution is uncovered that could not be seen before. People often have to be led to this moment, some easily, some go kicking and screaming, some never find it – but, if and when they do, the jolt of energy and motivation you feel from helping them reach this point is intoxicating. I once helped a battle-hardened operations manager see that she had to change her way of thinking about cross-functional relationships. The moment when she finally understood and could see the value was a time that I will never forget.

So as you can tell I draw energy and motivation from people. In fact interacting with others is what gets me out of bed (along with coffee!). What about you? What gives you energy? What is going to get you out of bed tomorrow morning?

Note – I originally wrote this post one year ago. I was never really happy with the flow or the message of the original post, so I waited a while (a long while), and finally found the time and energy to revisit and revise the original. I hope that you like this post – please feel free to leave me your comments below.


About Dale Myers

A San Francisco Bay Area Project and Program Expert
This entry was posted in Leadership and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Motivating Yourself to Lead Others – What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

  1. Dale,

    I too love my cup of coffee…

    For me, exploring something new motivates me. I enjoy the exploration and puzzle of it all.

    A few phrases stay with me:

    1. If we’re continuing to do the same thing, what fun are we having?
    2. If we’re not moving forward, where are we going?

    I tend to take the road less traveled by. And, I have to say, that has made all the difference. 😉


    • Dale Myers says:

      Thanks for reading Keri. Great comments on how exploring new ways motivates you. My experiences are that in business life, you are mostly in the minority (sadly enough). There is a lot of resistence to change in many businesses (for many reasons). Getting people to see that they need to change and the benefits of doing so can be difficult (and sometimes demotivating), but you have to stick by your guns and do what you think is right. I like to surround myself with people who think like you – exploring and changing to me is always fun. Have a great day, and a good cup of coffee tomorrow morning.
      Dale M.

  2. Lisa Kanarek says:

    It’s amazing how much others can motivate us. The opposite is true, too. Someone who complains often or never finds joy in anything, can affect others. That’s why I surround myself with friends, clients and colleagues who look for the positive in everything (as much as possible). They’re grateful for the opportunities they have and try to move forward in life. Great post!

    • Dale Myers says:

      Thank you Lisa for reading. There are people who give and those who take – the good thing is we get to choose who we have around us. It is also interesting to try and figure out how to “turn-around” those negative people out there. Sometimes there are good people hiding behind a negative front (and, sometimes not). Have a great 2012!

  3. Ellie Di says:

    Even though I’m in introvert, I found a lot of resonance in your reasons for wanting to motivate/help folks. I thrive with a diverse environment, and I love meeting the challenges that come with each new person who asks for my help. And there’s something magnificent in being the witness to that breakthrough moment when someone steps fully into that next level of awesomeness. Ah, bless.

    • Dale Myers says:

      Thank you for reading. Extoverts/Introverts are just labels that put us into boxes. I have worked with some introverts who were great with people – although sometimes they find it exhausting. The key is to find challenges that motivate you – and go foward. Please take care.

  4. PM Hut says:

    Hi Dale,

    I think for me, there are two things that get me out of bed every morning:

    – Competition (Need to work had to stay atop)
    – Clients (Need to either work on clients’ projects or acquire new clients)

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