Leadership:  “WIIFM” (What's in it for me?)  There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to understand “What’s In It For Me”--the benefit for them.  As we understand the benefits of doing something we are more incline to be committed and self-motivated.  People need time to make the connection on why this is a good thing for them—that process begins with you taking the time to explain it to them rather than them trying to make assumptions.  Most often, assumptions are wrong and it’s in your best interest to articulate the benefits!

The alternative is to want people to just be quiet and do what you say-that’s a dictatorial approach and not a true leader!  Dictators threaten people and think they are motivating people.  Many of these types of approaches come from the military.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some incredible leaders in the military and some excellent leadership training.  However, the mistake is misusing the various tactics in the wrong setting.

For example, in the military, there are ‘often’ times where you need to give an order and you want immediate obedience otherwise lives are at stake.  So training and tactics are geared to ensure that at those moments people do what they are told when they are told-without question.

In the business environment, we ‘rarely’ have such times where lives are at stake, with the exceptions such as when safety procedures are not followed, lives can be at stake.  At those times, you still want to avoid threatening people as a way to get things done.  Rather, its training people to understand the negative consequences when procedures are not properly followed. 

Threatening is a way to get people to do things while you are watching them.  And when you are not watching, they are looking for ways to get away from you—searching for other jobs other opportunities.  Motivation and loyalty come together.  You can’t make someone become loyal to you or to the effort.  It’s a decision that each individual gets to make and their actions following that decision is also a choice they make.

The goal is self-motivation and leaders need to continue to inspire people with positive reinforcement.  Helping them get to the point where they want to do things because they feel it is the right thing to do. And when they feel it is the right thing to do, they work harder and provide better quality to their work effort.

The leader is to help each individual become self-motivated and encourage them to use and develop their own talents.  That internal drive starts to appear as they see that their individual contributions are needed and appreciated.  That’s when they become driven and are less reliant on being driven by the leader. 

Motivation is not a one-time event.  It is on-going and you will need to continue to share the vision over and over again.  You will need to continue to inspire others by your own example, recognize positive behaviors, updating the team on progress being made, consistently making necessary adjustments as needed and engaging individuals into the vision.  Also, stepping in and helping the team recognize, appreciate and respect the talents of each individual. 

All this begins with people understanding ‘WIIFM’..