I think I suck as a leader. I mean really. I guess I’m not doing a good job when it comes to self-promotion, am I?
Yes, I’ve heard once or twice from former colleagues I was pretty charismatic in comparison to my successor. I was able to cherry-pick a few of best people from my former company to the new team (a couple of times actually) and they willingly followed me. Sometimes it happens I hear very warm words about teams I led from people who were a part of them. And yet I believe I suck as a leader.
I believe I could do a better job motivating people I work with, and yes, I do believe it is possible to motivate people. I should pay more attention to people on everyday basis. I should deliver and try to trigger getting feedback much more often. I should show more enthusiasm. I should be more patient. I should, I should, I should…
By the way if you happen to be recruiter and look for a candidate for my dream job just pretend you haven’t read previous paragraphs.
But it happens sometimes I see things aren’t so bad with me. Unfortunately these aren’t moments of epiphany when it appears I actually do pretty good job as a leader, which is usually my unconscious effort anyway. These are moments when I see other um… the word “leader” isn’t really appropriate here, let’s call them “managers” or something… so when I see these managers trying to motivate their people.
It’s not even about their efforts falling flat on the face. No. It’s even worse. Effect of their efforts is counterproductive. The organization, or the part of the organization, they lead is not a bunch of numbers in Excel sheet. The approach of their people is not a simple result of paying less or paying more or introducing this or that bonus system. Outcome produced by their teams is not linearly dependent of their so-called motivational speeches. And public critic, no matter if well-earned or not, doesn’t make people more determined to do a good job next time.
What I see so often is a manager trying to raise motivation with systemic approaches which are doomed by default. You can’t raise motivation changing accents of bonus system. You can’t raise motivation reorganizing teams. You can’t raise motivation telling people how they are responsible for the job. You can’t raise motivation setting the rules and breaking them just ten minutes later at the very same meeting. You can’t raise motivation while working with Excel sheet.
If that’s how you act your efforts to motivate people are counterproductive.
What you could do instead is to try to talk with people. You know, this old cool concept of face-to-face discussions. Possibly one-on-ones especially if there’s a need to criticize someone, which you definitely do in a constructive way, don’t you? Try to understand what drives a specific person in the first place and then think what would be a motivator for this very individual. Look for specific tools which works for specific people. Don’t look for a general motivational system – it’s like a unicorn: cool but doesn’t exist.
If you still think there is a technique which works for everyone in the room, you may want to reconsider whether you really need to attend this meeting. It may be a better choice not to show up and leave this whole motivational thing to people who, on average, don’t ruin morale with their efforts.
So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so bad with me after all.