“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.