Motivation – What’s So Hard?

Why do organizations of every size shape and description routinely fail to motivate and engage their employees? It’s not like there are mysteries or tightly kept secrets to motivating people. In fact, one of the best business and leadership books published in the past year or so is ALL about motivation – Drive, by Daniel Pink. So – with all of this information, data and research out there, why is this so hard for so many leaders to get right?

Take a minute to watch this very cool video based upon Daniel Pink’s presentation at RSA in London this January.

Now – what’s so hard about this? It’s different, and it represents change, and it does NOT capture the prevailing dogma of traditional business motivation. And sadly – it’s killing many organizations that once had wonderful potential.

Leaders fail to motivate - why?

Speaking purely from personal experience, I can say with 100% certainty that Daniel Pink is spot on when he says the three primary motivators for me are autonomy, mastery and purpose. I can point to numerous examples in my professional and personal life that more than validate the actual science of human motivation around these three concepts. But simply being motivated isn’t the end of it –not for me anyway. What happens when I am motivated?

Well – I get closer to greatness than at any other time. Now I’m not trying to suggest I’ve ever done a thing that anyone else might call “great.” I am speaking in relative terms here. A gerbil is a gerbil and can’t be a tiger. I’m a lot closer to a gerbil than anything as majestic and truly great as a tiger. But in my own little gerbil way, I’ve found some ways to make contributions to the people around me (purpose), when I’ve been left to my own devices (autonomy) and given a chance to learn some new stuff (mastery).

And this leads straight to the contributions people – like me – can make to the organization’s bottom line when we are truly motivated. This is the place where creativity and innovation flourish. This is the place where good ideas germinate and are nurtured. This is the place where greatness – in context – happens. And this begs a truly fundamental question many of us currently confront each and every day as we trudge to our office or cubicle. If we can achieve some measure of greatness when we are actually motivated, why do our “leaders” (and I use that term only to denote a hierarchy) sap the very life out of our work and kill those things that might motivate us?

Next Post – Motivate to Innovate. If innovation is critical to long-term vitality in this market, organizations that want to succeed have no choice but to come to grips with the realities of true human motivation.

Chris Osborn


About cosborn

I like to think, engage in innovative problem solving and spreading the good word about social media and Linked In!
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One Response to Motivation – What’s So Hard?

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