Inspiring and motivating people are key aspects of leadership that are as critical as they are elusive. Leaders struggle to find ways to keep their people engaged and performing at their best, and this is largely because they misunderstand the nature of motivation. In an effort to push people to achieve results, many leaders employ counterproductive strategies. In Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does, Susan Fowler reveals why traditional “carrot and stick” approaches to motivation will always fail to sustain results and explains the science behind what truly determines people’s attitudes and behaviors.
According to Fowler:
- Motivation falls along a spectrum of six outlooks: disinterested, external, imposed, aligned, integrated, and inherent.
- The disinterested, external, and imposed outlooks are suboptimal motivational outlooks; they yield only short-term or no benefits and do not lead to a positive sense of well-being. The aligned, integrated, and inherent outlooks are optimal motivational outlooks; they yield long-term benefits, sustained energy, and a positive sense of well-being.
- People have deep psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence, collectively referred to as ARC. The more a person’s needs for ARC are being met, the more optimal his or her motivational outlook will be.
- Meeting their needs for ARC is the end that people seek, consciously or not, and the means to that end is self-regulation. Three techniques support high-quality self-regulation: mindfulness, values, and purpose. The greater a person’s quality of self-regulation, the more optimal his or her motivational outlook will be.
- Leaders cannot make others shift to more optimal motivational outlooks, but they can facilitate a shift by conducting motivational outlook conversations. They can teach others these three skills of motivation after they have learned to apply them personally: identify the current motivational outlook, shift to (or maintain) an optimal motivational outlook, and reflect.
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