When Your Team Loses It’s Spark.

Like this on Facebook

A high-level sales manager (we’ll call her Jo) challenged me — taking exception to my statement that incentives, rewards and prizes are not optimal tactics for motivating her sales reps. Jo was attending my session on motivation because her reps had been hyped during a new product launch but they recently “lost their spark.” Since the incentive plan for the launch had ended, Jo had nothing more to motivate them. She tried appealing to their competitive nature, but they didn’t respond to her encouragement to win for bragging rights.

Jo wouldn’t accept the compelling research proving that external rewards and pressure don’t sustain people’s energy and effort over time because she was motivated by these external rewards — they worked for her.

I decided to challenge Jo back. I asked why she was motivated by the incentives and winning. She looked at me as if I were crazy. “I don’t know why, I just am,” she replied. I asked her to consider the reason incentives and rewards were so important to her. “I guess I like the status that comes with being a winner.” I asked her why. She asked if there was a couch for her to lie down on for this psychotherapy session.

It was obvious I needed to stop asking Jo to reflect in front of the whole class, but I did encourage her to think about the reasons for her motivation. More importantly, she needed to consider how her motivation was affecting her sales reps’ motivation.

I shared this story:

The hard-driving sales manager hoping to inspire his new sales rep took the young man to the top of a hill overlooking a posh part of the city. “Look at that place,” said the manager, pointing to a magnificent property, “I bet the house is 6,000 square feet, plus the horse stable and tennis court.” He pointed to another home, “Can you imagine the party you could throw around that pool?” Then, the manager put his arm around the wide-eyed young rep’s shoulders and told him, “Son, if you keep working as hard as you’re working, some day all this could be mine.”

Jo got the point. When people sense — or even wrongly interpret — that their leader’s motivation is self-serving, their psychological need for relatedness is undermined. They feel used and manipulated. Most people find their positive energy diminishes when their manager pushes them to make their numbers or pressures them to be number one. The rewards simply aren’t worth the stress and tension. Worse, feelings of alienation and pressure can fuel negative energy in some people. They may sabotage the system by falsifying reports, making bad deals, or engaging in unethical behavior — all the while, justifying their self-serving actions by comparing them to what they perceive as your self-serving motives.

How can you expect people to be motivated by high-quality values such as service, growth, learning, integrity, problem solving, or corporate citizenship, when they perceive you are motivated by self-serving values such as power, status, or rewards?

Winning is not always a bad thing! Winning might serve a purpose when used as a measuring stick as you pursue higher-quality goals. Winning can be healthy when you considered it a by-product of doing the right things for the right reasons. Winning is unhealthy when the reason for winning is to gain power, status, or rewards.

If the people you lead have lost their spark, try looking in the mirror and igniting your own motivation through meaningful values and a noble purpose. When it comes to leadership, the reasons for your motivation matter.

Originally published on susanfowler.com

Susan Fowler

Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains WHY MOTIVATING PEOPLE DOESN’T WORK… AND WHAT DOES: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit www.susanfowler.com.

 

Recommended

5 Simple Strategies to Keep Your Hero Talent

Tara Jaye Frank is the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose. I’m going to make this brief. Many companies have ...

Be Bold For Change: 10 Ways to Champion Women’s Advancement

International Women's Day is kindof a big deal for us. At Be Leaderly, we try to make it our mission 365 days a year to ...

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here’s what other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this month. Do you like any of these articles? Share them with your network! 1. 25 Questions ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Erin Lo
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Erin Lo

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

How to Go After Awards and Recognition (and Win)
How to Go After Awards and Recognition (and Win)

Just last week, a Director at a well-regarded business school explained to me that she

Leaderly Quote: Don’t let fear steal your dreams
Leaderly Quote: Don’t let fear steal your dreams

“Don’t let fear steal your dreams.” — Sabina Nawaz

Five Strengths of Vulnerable Leaders
Five Strengths of Vulnerable Leaders

The biggest misconception in corporate America is the thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous.

How to Convince a Stranger to be Your Mentor
How to Convince a Stranger to be Your Mentor

When I arrived in the U.S. from India to attend college, I was excited and

Leaderly Quote: Take on things outside your comfort zone…
Leaderly Quote: Take on things outside your comfort zone…

“Take on the things outside your comfort zone that the world is pushing you toward.”

Top 10 Most-Read Articles of 2017
Top 10 Most-Read Articles of 2017

Grab a cup of cocoa, take a seat in your favorite comfy spot, and find

Our Best of 2017 – 33 Leadership Quotes (Slideshow)
Our Best of 2017 – 33 Leadership Quotes (Slideshow)

Every other Monday morning at BeLeaderly.com we post one of our favorite leadership quotes to help you

4 Ways to Execute a Stretch Assignment Like a Rock Star
4 Ways to Execute a Stretch Assignment Like a Rock Star

Want to uncover a bigger, bolder vision for your career than you can imagine today?

Lend Your Voice! Participate in Our Research Survey
Lend Your Voice! Participate in Our Research Survey

Help us change the game for working women by participating in our brief research survey

Cultivate Your Inner Voice of Courage (Video)
Cultivate Your Inner Voice of Courage (Video)

You’re not smart enough. You’re too new to this. You make bad choices. We all

Leaderly Quote: Someone sees the leader in you
Leaderly Quote: Someone sees the leader in you

Sometimes a thought or quote leaves an indelible mark on us. It was more than

What Does it Mean to Have a Sponsor? (Podcast)
What Does it Mean to Have a Sponsor? (Podcast)

What does it mean to have a sponsor? How is a mentor different? And how

The 5 Best Times to Negotiate on the Job
The 5 Best Times to Negotiate on the Job

When we negotiate and fail, the effects can set us back both personally and professionally. Perhaps

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly