A question plaguing leaders increasingly is how to motivate their people and get them to perform to their best potential. Interestingly, the same leaders, while recounting their early days at work, which were in most cases around 15 years back or more, get wishfully nostalgic about how supremely self motivated they were and those were times when the discussion about the issue was much sparse. The more the effort today, the more the job seems to be going uphill. Going back to basics may help.
People are at their best when they are happy. And people are happy when they are recognised and what they do is perceived to be of value. So how do we make everyone’s contribution valuable. Well, don’t! Just focus on the person, value the person; valuable contributions ‘will’ happen. Part of the problem is that in the last many years we have got more and more obsessed about the ‘how to’ factor than staying focused on the ‘what’. The ‘how’ underlies the thought that anyone can be equally productive if we get the processes right. Wrong! The ‘what’ takes us to the individuals at the heart of the performance and points us very simply to that which charges them up. ‘How’ forces us to generalise, ‘What’ urges us to specialise. ‘How’ goes to the lowest common denominator and stays on the surface. ‘What’ touches the highest common factor and goes deeper. In the former, the power is more centred, the latter is highly inclusive by default.
And focusing on the individual is so much more simpler. Half the job is done even before we begin as a big chunk is taken care of with the premise that what’s good for me is good for you! This chunk is our approach, our attitude, our behaviour, our interactions, our interpersonal relationships, empathy, the support we extend, the understanding we show, the feelings of connectedness and a bond that we generate.
I guess that most successful companies are here for a marathon, not for 100m sprints. And a marathon can only be run with a big heart.