This is Part 4 of 8 for my series on Motivation. Before you get started, I need you to do 2 things for me.
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Motivating the Most Obstinate People in Your Group—Is It Possible?
Obstinacy is generally a sign of inflexibility and ignorance. But when you come against it, particularly as part of a team that you are heading, you could well end up wanting to bang your head against a brick wall.
There is a story that goes something like this. Ralph Waldo Emerson and his son Edward were trying to persuade a calf into the barn. However, pushing and shoving was not yielding the desired results. The son clung to the neck and Ralph pushed from behind but with no results. The calf stuck to her ground. An Irish peasant who was passing offered to help. Going to the front of the calf, she stuck her finger into its mouth and the calf quietly and without a demur followed her into the barn.
What is the moral of the story? Most people are like the calf. If you try to force them against their will proding and pushing them to act according to your agenda, you will only succeed in getting them to dig their heels in and they will not budge an inch. However, if you provide them with some form of motivation (perhaps by helping they understand why you want them to act in a fashion and what is in it for them), then chances are you will get them moving.
Think of the “Chinese Finger Trap.” Once locked in, the harder you pull apart the more impossible the struggle will be to release your fingers. However, once you stop struggling to use force and bring your fingers together, you will be able to easily release yourself from the trap.
Good executives or leaders get their work done and their ends achieved by motivating their employees to give their best both individually as well as a team. They are willing to ignore individual weaknesses and to concentrate on using their people’s best strengths. They are concerned more with what they can do rather than what they cannot. They understand that to get the most out of them, they will need to motivate them.
President Lincoln understood the importance of motivation. When he was told that General Ulysses S. Grant had a drinking problem, he responded, “If I knew his brand, I’d send a barrel to all the other generals also.”
Motivation must come from inside. So as a leader you need to know what all is going on inside the obstinate individual, what are his likes and dislikes, more important his fears and his phobias. Once you know which buttons to push the rest becomes much easier. Some people respond to money, others to recognition. Ask any crooked businessperson how to motivate a powerful politician and he will give you the right answers!
You need to attack on several fronts, economic, emotional, recognition, self-expression, self-respect and self-fulfillment. Check where your recalcitrant team member stands on all these issues. Identify the things that will mean the most to them and then make a plan that will provide them a solution that best meets these needs. Like Mary’s little lamb, they will be ready to follow you for the rest of your life.
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