Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Is Your Organization’s Leadership Internally Or Externally Motivated?

Is your company's leadership motivated by external deadlines – what other people request from them? Or are they motivated by their own internal deadlines – expectations and demands they place on themselves?

Unfortunately, we have all witnessed too many leaders who are externally motivated.   They require demands from their boss and reminders from their colleagues in order to get things done.  At a time where we need leaders in the workplace to touch the business just as much as they lead it, external motivation is unacceptable in today's new business climate.   Leaders are spending too much time playing it safe, when they should be taking calculated risks to be more innovative, decisive and forward-thinking in their actions.

Think about what the workplace and its people would be like if leaders where internally motivated.

1. A More Innovative Workplace Culture.

Internally motivated leaders inspire their employees and colleagues to match their internal fire, bringing out the innovators in everyone.  Employees become more critical in their thinking.  People become more aware of their own "employee brand" and how its relevance can best support leadership and align with the organizations goals and objectives.  An innovative culture would help the high performance employees stand out from those that just play it safe.

2.   More Critical Thinking; Adaptive Teamwork.

People become more critical in their thinking, approach and style to their leadership. Do you adapt your thinking to your leadership? I am shocked by those who are constantly complaining about their boss.   First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect boss.  Second, tough luck!   Your responsibility is not to always agree with your boss, but rather exceed her expectations.  Therefore, if your boss is internally motivated; learn how to stay a few steps ahead.  Perhaps you can become the employee that fuels your boss's internally driven motivations and ultimate success.  Be a lifter.  Help others become better all the time, even if you are not always getting the direct credit.  Your time will come.  Helping others must fuel your internal motivations.

I'm reminded of my early corporate years, when my boss would always surprise the team with new expectations for the business and challenge our approach to growth.  Over time, I began to realize that my thought processes started to change.  I was being challenged to express my entrepreneurial spirit in a manner that forced me to out-think my boss.  Not in a competitive sense, but in a holistic sense that pushed me to better understand her patterns of thought and how I could become her secret weapon without anyone knowing.  Overtime, we both understood my role and I began to share what I learned with others on the team to do the same, encouraging their own style and approach.  Our team became the highest performing division in the organization.

Innovation is the by-product of internal motivation.   The greatest leaders are the ones that can take their internal motivations and cultivate innovation from within their communities.

The best leadership team I was a part of was the most unorganized.   The organization was not measured by structures, but rather driven by continuous innovation to keep our competitors honest.  While the lack of structure challenged our ability to be efficient, every leader was internally motivated to produce new marketable ideas.  Not small ideas, but big ideas that could leverage the existing infrastructure of the organization to extend itself beyond its own boundaries.   It's amazing how much more people can do when their future was based on their ability to convert inventions into innovations.  This begins with leadership that is motivated from within.

If you looked at your company's organizational chart, could you easily detect the leaders that are internally versus externally motivated?  If you are one of the externally motivated leaders, would this be obvious to others?  How about your colleagues?  What drives them?  Are you an asset or a liability to your organization?

I welcome your viewpoints and stories about the leaders in your workplace.

Thanks to Glenn Llopis / Blog Forbes

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