Success and Motivation


Success and motivation feeds one another.   Success gets the team motivated, and motivation leads to team success.   The single most important job of a leader is to guide the team to success. Understand and leverage the dynamics between success and motivation is a critical leadership skill.

Motivation comes in many forms, and can be positive (encouragement) or negative (reprimand).  There will be time when reprimand is required; but in general, positive motivation is preferred.  Good leaders must recognize that success is not just a result, but a strong motivator in itself, whose effectiveness often exceeds that of power, money and fame.  After all, who doesn’t like success?  Some leaders blame lack of raises and promotion as reason for not able to motivate the team.  While the world often defines success by these standards, there are intangible yet more power motivators, such as satisfaction and self-respect.  Good leaders should cultivate these motivators.

On the surface, the relationship between motivation and success is like the chicken-and-egg: which comes first?   The truth is that they reinforce one another in a positive feedback loop. It is well known in control theory that positive feedback loop amplifies with time.  In team dynamics this also holds true. Small early successes can lead to greater success.  In practice, leaders should breakdown a seemingly insurmountable task into several more achievable tasks. Then the leader must motivate the team to achieve them. Motivation in this context is the art of leading the team to believe that they can succeed. That takes encouragement, trust, training and empowerment. If the team fail, learn from the mistakes and try again. When the team succeed, celebrate it. As positive momentum builds, the team gaining confidence and feeling good about themselves, take the team to the next-level with greater challenges.

Below summarizes this leadership concept:

  1. Believe that everyone wants to be successful
  2. Breakdown a big challenge into small challenges
  3. Motivate the team so they believe they can succeed
  4. Equip the team so they really can succeed
  5. Celebrate meaningful success, however small
  6. Issue the next greater challenge
  7. Go to 3 and repeat.

(The above article is solely the expressed opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the position of his current and past employers)

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