“I’m struggling to motivate my team. How do I do it?” This is the topic I often hear in a coaching session.
Looking at this topic from a broader perspective, this is what I believe: There is way too much work in the world that does not carry our most inspirational values and too many people that have given up their natural human desire to have a vision in exchange for a purely operational life.
Somehow, we fail to go past our basic needs and into the land of our soul desires. And neither do organisations, as our collective world, always encourage us to take that path.
So, how to sort this out? While the reality may be too complex for simple solutions, we could still start with a first step of initiating the conversation with ourselves and others about what really motivates us and gives us meaning.
Perhaps we would realise that while searching for a solution on how to empower and engage others we are often little empowered and engaged ourselves. Many times, our own result achieving competency is low because we lack purpose and meaning in what we do and that needs to be looked into even before exploring the level of motivation of our team.
One of the doorways into that exploration is to look at our inspirational values and how much they are honoured in the work we have chosen to do. Because doing the work based on our inspirational values leads to those types of achievements that could make the difference in everyone’s lives and organisations – the purposeful ones.
In addition to making sense, these achievements are the antidote to the transactional contributions that we often witness within organisations. This is how it usually sounds: what I get, is what I give. And the value of what I get develops a very fluctuating character over time as it depends on many things that I prioritise when I don’t feel fulfilled by the meaningful nature of my work. There are many trade-offs I need when my work essentially does not make sense.
This is where bold leaders come in. Their task is not only to motivate their teams but to discover their own passion, the passion of people their work with and crystallise what the team as a collective entity chooses to be passionate about.
And they do it less focussing on results, and more on experiencing fulfilment that will bring to results. Unlike happiness and comfort that derive from trade-offs and that can end at any moment, fulfilment gives deep sense to us and keeps us going forward feeling passionately alive.
Bold leaders’ task is to keep rediscovering the passions within and around them because they represent the source of everyone’s truly meaningful work.
And finally, it is completely individual where we find most meaning. Whether it is in the opportunity to grow, to create, connect, or care, or perhaps all of them. Our meaningful work is ours to discover and follow.
To better understand if you are on the path of your meaningful work, look for a gap between your sense of accomplishment and recognition and your sense of deep meaning and fulfilment. How does it feel to raise your own awareness of these distinctions? How does this gap feel, if there is one? And if you initiate a bolder conversation with yourself, what would you find out about it? What’s there; what’s missing, and what are you not daring to face?
There can be many reasons for us to tolerate this gap, many reasonable trade-off, and one secure outcome: a waste of our bold leadership legacy.