Thursday, April 28, 2011

Encourage the Cooperation of Others

By Richard Hohmann, VP of Innovative Leadership

“Since the first recorded history, leaders have attempted to discover new ways to attract the willing cooperation of others.”

Leaders fill many different types of positions and perform widely diverse functions. But the chief task of leadership is the same for all: to motivate people who will then use their skills and effort to achieve the goals of the organization. The operative word in that definition is motivate. The attention given to motivation is not new. Since the first recorded history, leaders have attempted to discover new ways to attract the willing cooperation of others. Records of their attempts—along with accounts of their successes and failures—have filled countless volumes, but all of the different methods discovered can be sorted into three basic categories: fear, incentive, and attitude.

. Motivation through fear
The oldest method of motivation is fear. In primitive society, the strongest person became the ruler. Physical strength was originally the source of power, and weaker members of the group followed orders because they feared the physical punishment that was sure to result from refusal to conform. As society became more organized, other types of power came into play: Social, economic, and political pressures forced obedience. Even today, the business world uses fear to motivate people to behave in desired ways. Rules and policies threaten various sanctions for undesirable behavior all the way from a memo of censure placed in the personnel file to denial of increased pay to outright dismissal.

2. Motivation through incentive
Although fear is often a powerful motivator, many would-be leaders who lack the personal power to demand obedience look for other methods of producing the cooperation they want. They realized that every behavior is the result of a desire either to gain a benefit or to avoid a loss. Because of this lack of power, they offer an incentive—the promise of some gain to those who complied. Incentive motivation is generally regarded as a more enlightened strategy than fear. Families and schools use the promise of rewards to coax children to perform. Organizations offer people awards, prizes, and privileges for certain achievements.

3. Motivation through attitude
The master method of motivation is attitude. When people are willing to perform because they personally believe that a particular course of action is right, they are self-motivated. It is then unnecessary for anyone else to “motivate” them.

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