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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lean Quote: Leaders Don't Invent Motivation In Their Followers, They Unlock It

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Leaders don't invent motivation in their followers, they unlock it." — John W. Gardner

In my experience there are three things you need to learn about motivation:
  1. First, you can’t motivate anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing.
  2. The second thing is that all people are motivated. The person that stays in bed in the morning rather than getting up and going to work is more motivated to stay in bed than to work. They might be negatively motivated, but they are nonetheless motivated.
  3. The third thing is that people do things for their reasons and not for yours. The trick is to find out what their reasons are.

Motivated, committed, engaged employees care about what they do and why they do it. They get up and come to work every day because they care about it. It’s not a short-term energy surge; it’s a way of life.

Motivation comes from within. Individuals have the capacity to motivate themselves...or demotivate themselves. Help them see the way by creating and sustaining the kinds of conditions that help them bring their best selves to work every day. Respect, proactive and honest communications, capable and engaged leadership – these are the ingredients that add up to an engaged, energized workplace.

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  1. Great article ... but I would think you are talking about Inspiration (comes from within) as opposed to Motivation (come from without) ?

  2. I still think the main thing mangers can do is remove demotivation. In most organizations where demotivation has dominated their might be a role in helping people re-open themselves to intrinsic motivation (because over the years and decades people learned to turn off their desire for intrinsic motivation in order to avoid the frustration the company would provide).


    1. I couldn't agree more John. Removing the barriers and demonstrating respect for people can go a long way to motivate.

      Nice article.