Lead Explored: Inspiring & Motivating

In blog #5 (Leading Well) it was suggested that the essence of leadership is influence and relationship. Perhaps the most powerful way that leaders influence people is by proper inspiration and motivation. Recently I read two books on this topic to grow in my ability to inspire and motive.

The authors of Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, state, “At the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called ‘leaders’ is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve important results.” (p. 6) The scope of the book addresses a matrix of categories: personal, social, and structural areas each viewed from the standpoint of motivation and ability. I liked seeing motivation considered beyond the personal component since community and environment can significantly influence one’s motivation.

The second book, Intrinsic Motivation at Work, essentially helps one to discover the intrinsic rewards that reinforce self-management. Primary rewards revolve around choosing activities and enhancing competence. The result when people have a voice in decisions and grow in competence is a sense of meaningfulness and progress. A big part of inspiring and motivating is helping people to self manage according to their passion.

In our leadership paradigm of seeking to live and lead like Jesus, we must inspire to a vision (process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something) and motivate to engage (a reason or reasons for acting or behavior in a particular way). Too often our inspiration falls short of touching people at a heart level (affections), focusing at best on challenging the mind or some short-lived emotional high.

Matthew was a tax collector who wanted to exchange that lifestyle for one with more meaning and purpose.  Several of the Disciples were fishermen who deep down inside wanted to catch more than fish. To know what truly motivates people ask these questions – What makes you laugh?  What makes you cry?  What do you dream about?  Jesus motivated by touching the souls of people.

Ask for great commitment – leaders know that how you do “The Ask” matters.  Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow Me.”  When a rabbi made this request to a young Jewish man, he was asking for a life commitment.  When Jesus was able to direct seasoned fishermen to cast their nets off the side of the boat and land an amazing catch of fish, they knew He was a worthy rabbi to follow. Too often leaders do not properly challenge their teams, and unfortunately they only live up to the level of being challenged.

Puritan Thomas Chalmers wrote in a sermon called The Expulsive Power of a New Affection that an exchange is needed for a person to be motivated to set a course of no regrets. Of course the greatest exchange anyone can make is to believe the Gospel and exchange spiritual death for life. The next greatest exchange possible is that of submitting to the Lordship of Jesus over self. From this point onward, life is full of exchanges and the good leader knows how to inspire people to choose a worthy new affection.

How intentional are you with your influence to inspire and motivate? What commitments keep you inspired and motivated? What habits guide you interactions with others so they are encouraged to pay the price of making disciples? Even those of us who are not naturally inspiring or motivating can lead so that others rise to a higher level of living when we properly feed our souls and walk by faith.

Net blog: Managing People

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