BOB'S COMMON SENSE THEORY ON LEADERSHIP
Being in Human Resources for 35 years and graduating from college with a degree in organization behavior, I think I have studied every theory on leadership and motivation that has ever been written. And my feeling is that most of them are not very motivating at all and do not really define leadership.
There are so many people out there who have made millions of dollars with very simple ideas on how to get people to do what you want them to do. There's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in which people must satisfy their physiological, safety, and social needs first before they get to satisfying their egos and reach self-actualization. Then there's McGregor's Theory X/Theory Y in which the X managers believe people hate work and rely heavily on threat and coercion to gain their employees' compliance, while the Y managers believe people generally like their work and that doing a good job is a strong motivator.
Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory has some merit to it as he states people are motivated more by the type of work they do. Herzberg believed that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction work independently of each other and that true motivation comes from within. What most people think are motivators such as money, benefits, working conditions and social relationships are what Herzberg dubbed as hygiene factors. These factors only keep employees working with you. They are extrinsic to the work itself. The real motivators are the intrinsic factors such as challenging work, recognition, responsibility, achievement and personal growth.
Other concepts such as the Equity Theory which states that the amount of effort is proportional to the amount of the reward (duh!) and employees who find out that a co-worker is earning more will become disgruntled (double duh!!). And last, The Expectancy Theory – if I work hard and do a good job I will be rewarded. Sorry this is not so anymore – not in this economy.
Bob's Common Sense Theory of Leadership
1. You can only motivate people who want to be motivated.
You have all seen them. The people who hate their job. And then in the same organization, there are those who continually jump in with both feet. Why is this? It's simple – some people are just not suited to the job they are doing. People who enjoy what they do are more apt to do it better. This is not something that is new or different, just plain common sense.
So your challenge is to find those people who are fascinated by the work your company does – not just the people who are looking for a job – any job. What makes them tick?
Then there are others that just plain dislike working – period. Let them bring another organization down because you will be wasting your time trying to get them moving.
2. A Leader Needs Followers
Here's another great example of common sense leadership. How many people have you known who think they are leaders, but when they say, “Hey, follow me.” No one is behind them? The leader is one who creates trust and enthusiasm in people. Followers must believe in the leader – that the leader will support them when needed. When this happens, the follower will bend over backwards to help the leader. TRUST in the leader is essential.
Some leaders are like a flash in the pan. They lead until the trust is broken. The undercurrent starts as in the Rock Opera, Tommie, by the Who when the participants in the Pinball Camp start whispering, “We're not gonna take it," repeatedly until they shout it from the rooftops.
3. People can only be motivated if they believe in what they are doing.
As the old saying goes, “You Gotta Believe.” This is also a bit different than item #1 above. This factor is more in line with the entire business and the product or service being provided. People have to believe that what they are doing is a worthwhile endeavor. Who wants to work on something that they feel has little value?
As business leaders, your challenge is to maintain relevance of your product or service. Otherwise, people leave looking for something more rewarding.
It's just common sense.
4. A leader is a natural motivator of the right people.
No matter how hard you try, Rush Limbaugh will never become an Obama Supporter. So if you are the leader of the Democratic Party, do not recruit Rush to be your spokesperson. It just won't work.
Most hiring and retention decisions are not this easy, so your challenge is to find those people with enough similar traits and beliefs as you have. These people will strengthen the culture of your organization.
If you have the right people, the rest is simple. Just plain old common sense.
If common sense is so common why do so few people have it?
Because we have too many empirical studies being performed by the people who have not lived life's experiences.
Think about it and have a great month.