Leadership Perspectives | 10.02.19
A Manger’s Guide to Motivation and Inspiration: Part 3
It’s common knowledge that one of the most important job requirements of managers is to motivate their employees. Managers have been told, taught, praised, criticized and compensated for their ability (or inability) to motivate their teams and deliver results. Sales managers are often judged solely by their numbers, which senior management frequently believes is a direct result of the motivation level of the sales team. Most believe that “true leaders” are those that know how to motivate people to archive exceptional results. Too bad none of this is true.
As I discussed in my previous article on self-motivation, people only achieve what they want to achieve. Motivation must come from within one’s self. No amount of cajoling, begging, threatening or enticing from a manger will lead to a motivated employee, unless the employee wants to be motivated. Yes, the primary role of managers is to provide leadership, support and guidance to their employees, but there’s much confusion and misunderstanding about leadership, management and motivation. So, if motivation comes from within, what can managers do externally to get employees to motivate themselves internally and achieve their goals? The answer is inspire.
Inspiration is the key force that managers can use to motivate. Motivation is the driving force from within, while inspiration is the pulling force from without. Motivation is deliberate, while inspiration is spontaneous. In Part 2, I described self-motivated people as having written goals and plans to achieve these goals. But when you’re inspired, you feel compelled to achieve goals and want to develop a plan and put it into action to achieve these goals. In this light, it’s easy to see that inspiration is the key to successful leadership. A leader stimulates people mentally and emotionally. It’s the spark that lights the fuse. When financial advisors are truly inspired, they naturally want to do the best they can for their clients, their peers, their bank and their manager. A truly inspired financial advisor will work tirelessly with a sense of mission. Effective self-motivational techniques help financial advisors direct their efforts in a meaningful way. Without inspiration, financial advisors are not motivated to achieve their goals.
So, what can managers do to inspire their teams? Actually, a lot. First and foremost, it’s pretty hard to inspire with a tweet or text message! It’s important for a manager to get “up close and personal” with their financial advisors to form the foundation of a true relationship and build rapport. Managers have to show they genuinely care about their financial advisors – both on a professional and personal basis. Once a relationship is established, not every contact needs to be face-to-face, but to inspire, personal contact is essential.
To inspire, mangers have to build their teams up. Be positive and enthusiastic – having a “there are no problems, only opportunities” attitude. Being positive and enthusiastic is contagious, but it’s important that financial advisors believe you’re being sincere and realistic in your attitude. It’s important to get financial advisors to adopt ambitious goals, but they must realistically be achievable. Mangers inspire their financial advisors to believe in their abilities and that they can truly accomplish anything they put their minds to. Managers who inspire always see the positive, the opportunities and the best in their people and help them see the best in themselves.
One mistake managers can make is to deliver unsolicited criticism. The old saying about not saying anything if you don’t have something positive to say really holds true for inspiring leaders. Even constructive criticism should be avoided unless it’s asked for. If feedback or input is asked for, don’t hesitate to give it – but make sure it’s delivered in a positive way. For example, if a financial advisor misses a new business goal and asks for help, emphasize his or her effort and acknowledge the trust the financial adivsor is showing you by asking for your help. Say something like, “thank you for asking me for help – your asking shows me you trust and respect me – and that means a lot to me.”
There are a couple of surefire ways to kill whatever inspiration you have generated. First, break a promise. Nothing will destroy whatever trust you’ve built faster than to renege on a commitment you’ve made. Inspiring leaders keep their promises. Also, taking all the credit for success will diminish you in the eyes of your staff. Even if you were greatly responsible, inspiring managers take themselves out of the spotlight and give credit to others. And to keep inspiring, it’s best to publicly acknowledge others contributions and involvement as much as possible. Success is a team effort, and publicly recognizing the team will help keep them motivated.
Perhaps the most basic attribute of inspiring leaders is that they really do care about people. Be it a politician, military commander, corporate CEO or bank investment program manager, people follow them, admire them and are inspired by them because, at an emotional level, they believe they care about them. And this belief comes from both big and small things – remembering birthdays, work anniversaries, kid’s names and asking how a financial advisor is doing and listening to the answer. Too many times, mangers can get lost in the myriad things happening in their world to really listen to other people’s problems. But strong leaders know that their employees’ problems are their problems, too. Caring is the underlying unspoken message that inspiring leaders continuously communicate in their words and actions. If you care, they’ll care, too.
This is Part 3 of a four-part series.
Part 1: What motivates financial advisors
Part 2: Practical self-motivation strategies
Part 4: Improving recruiting and hiring results
Paul A. Werlin founded Human Capital Resources, Inc. (HCR) in 1995 to provide recruiting, consulting, training and employee selection services specifically for the financial institution investment program marketplace. HCR has worked with more than 200 banks, credit unions, broker/dealers, third-party marketing firms, and mutual fund and insurance companies, helping them recruit key personnel for sales, marketing, technology, compliance and senior management positions.