Gwen@GwenKinsey.com / 605-212-8462

Does Motivation Stem from Inspiration or Threats and Rewards?

Does Motivation Stem from Inspiration or Threats and Rewards?

The Power of Right MotivationLeaders who need people to find new solutions should learn the difference between motivation derived from ‘power over’ vs ‘power with’. What does this mean?

Traditionalists expect that a leader’s “power” to motivate is at the center of an organization’s productivity and success. Threats and rewards (coercion) are traditional ‘power over’ tools of motivation.

But, how motivational do you think ‘power over’ is in organizations who need to meet emerging opportunities?

In your experience, have you seen external rewards and/or punishments ignite new ideas?

Let me put it this way…if an organization needs to create new solutions…which team is more likely to produce viable and sustainable options with fewer unintended consequences?

  • one led by an incredibly smart person with all the answers armed with carrots and sticks, or,
  • an organization with many people working together each contributing their unique strength toward a shared vision?

If you’re thinking this was a dumb question with an obvious answer I want to challenge that impulse.

‘Power with’ is an outcome grounded in social collaboration and distributed leadership. ‘Power with’ is the engine that can drive us into a fast changing future. The collective brain is adaptive as well as intelligent.

What role can inspiration have?

Inspiration is a powerful internal motivational fuel source. It’s power comes from the internal spark someone feels when they are emotionally invested and recognized for their unique contribution to something larger than themselves.

If you’d like to leverage inspirational and motivational ‘power with’, here are some questions for you to reflect on:

  1. Who was that inspirational person in your life? What qualities made them inspiring?
  2. How are you incorporating other people’s perspectives into your thinking?
  3. Do people feel safe enough to share their ideas and real-time observations?
  4. Do you connect someone’s unique strengths with the bigger picture in a way that acknowledges their contribution?
  5. Do the formal and informal leaders in your organization have a net positive or net negative impact on others?

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