A leader with: 1) significant capacity, 2) the character and competence to foster followers’ trust, and 3) a compelling vision still needs to motivate others to join him or her in the quest to see the vision become reality. Motivation is the fourth and final irreducible ingredient of leadership. Embodiment, communication, enthusiasm and power are all tools that leaders use to motivate followers.
A leader must embody the vision if he or she hopes to inspire and motive others to follow. A leader’s behavior, attitudes and espoused values must be congruent with the vision that he or she is pursuing. A leader must live what he or she wants others to become. The shared values of the institution or group must be embraced as personal values. The corporate mission must align with the leader’s personal mission. Without compromising the leader’s objectivity or having his or her identity intertwined with the institution in an unhealthy way, there must be congruency of purpose, values and behavior between the leader and the institution. No one wants to hire an obese fitness instructor. Questions swirl around the bankrupt financial advisor. And a cardiologist who smokes has little credibility encouraging patients to quit.
Motivation also calls for communication. To inspire followers, a leader must be able to communicate well. Different leaders employ different methods to engage and impart information to their followers; speaking, writing, the arts and media are all significant methods that leaders can use to reach the hearts and minds of followers.
Effective leaders employ contagious enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can overcome the roadblocks, obstacles, setbacks and fears that can stall movement toward a vision. Enthusiasm fights through disappointments and hardship to keep people excited about the benefits of realizing the vision. When faced with significant internal and external challenges, Nehemiah said, The joy of the Lord is my strength.
Leaders possess legitimate power and need to know when and how to use it. Inappropriate use of power changes leadership into tyranny; but disuse of power leaves the leader impotent and ineffective. Understanding the power resources available to him or her and judicious use of the available power is important for a leader to maximize his or her effectiveness.
The next four Trustworthy Sayings will deal with issues of motivation: Embodiment, Communication, Enthusiasm, and Power.
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