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The factor of motivation in getting higher productivity and quality improvements as well as in gaining commitment and loyalty has always been a major point of contention in the continuing debate as to whether a person can be motivated or not, or whether motivation is really up to an individual and his or her personal ambition and goal seeking.

You may disagree with me but after all these years of teaching, management consulting and leadership training, I am convinced that what we call motivation is really an exchange of material and or psychic rewards for effort. In effect such material and or psychic rewards only result in a level of effort more or less equivalent with the perception of the person as to the amount of effort which in his view equates to the reward being offered. What we often claim as motivation is a result of an exchange , a trade between effort expended and reward received.

A manager in my humble view cannot really motivate a person. Higher productivity might very well be a function of a better reward system and a better quality work environment. A motivated person goes beyond the requirements of the job description and demonstrates commitment and loyalty but above all a love for what they do. Motivation is more intrinsic than extrinsic. We are witnessing more extrinsic strategies to get people to perform . Performance therefore goes up and down with the perception of the value of the reward structure.

So what can a manger do to really motivate. Firstly, I don’t like the word motivate. I prefer the word inspire. A manager while she tries to achieve efficiency (ratio of input to input especially in relation to cost) and effectiveness ( how well the target/goal was achieved including quality) has to find the clue as to what will inspire a person to perform beyond the requirements of the job description. In this regard a manager has to first shift his/ her own paradigm and assume the mind-set of a leader, or better yet an inspirational leader. A manager cannot only be concerned with process and systems. A manager must be a leader and for me the definition of a leader is one capable of inspiring people to exceed their personal expectations of themselves and to achieve life satisfaction. People mistakenly think that employees are seeking job satisfaction. You are wrong . They are always seeking life satisfaction and they do so through both work and non-work activities. When a leader can inspire a person to see herself as more than a worker but as a contributor to society, family and community even as that person works in the organization, the productivity and performance of that person will increase.

An individual may achieve life satisfaction through complete identity with the work they do. However for most people job satisfaction is only one part of total life satisfaction. A leader who inspires people to higher performance speaks to them not only of the organization’s vision but of their own vision, their family vision, their community vision, their spiritual vision, and then works with them to realize these. This is not just about managing a person’s behaviour at work. It about leadership and a commitment to developing human potential.

An employee (I prefer the word person) goes beyond the role requirements and voluntarily does more because of the fact that they receive “love” from the leader. In life generally people gravitate to persons and places where they are loved. It is love that transforms people, creates understanding, breeds commitment and loyalty. A leader inspires by helping a person to see the value of their contribution beyond the physical product or service but to see it in the larger context of the place of the person in the world.

Leaders inspire. They do not motivate. They inspire by giving love and helping the person to grow personally. The goal is life satisfaction!

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