Leadership and Motivation

Is it the job of a leader to motivate people?…

That’s a question I am chewing on at the moment and would be interested in your reflections.

If you’d asked me 5 years ago I would have said ‘absolutely’ – that it’s a primary task of leadership to be a driving force and to motivate people to carry out certain roles and tasks. The leader is to be the one who helps people find energy and enthusiasm for whatever it is that they are working towards. I’m not sure why I thought that. I guess I’d always found myself drawn to inspirational, motivational leaders – hence that was my concept of leadership.

Lately I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of seeing motivation as a function of leadership.

I wonder if as leaders we risk spending our time trying to get naturally unmotivated people to do things that they don’t actually want to do (even if they actually say they do). Is it my job as a leader to find the key in them to help them get moving, or is this actually a self defeating process in that people who are not intrinsically motivated will never actually self start if someone else is always turning their crank?

Do we actually create a dependent relationship and get in the way of people taking responsibility for their own success and failures?

For a long time I have felt that it is my job to get people moving and to be a primary source of their energy and inspiration, but more and more I am coming to believe that if people don’t want to do something (or if they need my energy to make it happen) then I’m better off leaving them alone to do nothing.

It requires way too much unnecessary energy to motivate the disinterested and the lazy.

I will work with anyone who is prepared to have a go, but I am starting to think its bad stewardship of time to try and motivate those who don’t want to do anything to take action.

Ironically in the past I have been able to motivate people well and easily, but I am starting to wonder if the end result of that is a project that relies on my energy and passion rather than on people’s own sense of calling and desire.

Ok… there’s some food for thought…

Fire up!

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