March 21, 2011

Leadership Limerick: The Mojo of Motivation

Every Monday, I offer a leadership limerick, highlighting an idea or strategy about effective leadership in limerick form.

You can sometimes get people in gear
If you point out the threat they should fear

But having a grand dream to pursue
May be a more motivating glue

If you can make its benefits 100% clear.

A common question people often ask is "What keeps you up at night?"  It's intention is good: discover what troubles people, their pain points, and try to address the underlying needs.  But its roots are negative and focused on problem-solving instead of aspiration-pursuing.

No doubt that fear can motivate people if the threat is real and imminent.  Some leaders though cry wolf and try to manufacture a looming crisis that really isn't that definitive.  The initial motivation bump it might engender is rarely sustainable.

Instead ask, "What would make you leap out of bed in the morning?"  A compelling goal or future that inspires passion and creative thinking can be a powerful motivating force.  Instead of manufacturing fear, we should not be afraid to help uncover meaning.  Instead of defaulting to what people want to run away from, we should spend more time helping them discover what would be worth running toward.

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