• Mel Butcher

You can't manage your way to initiative.

When you think about working for a boss that motivated you, what do you remember?

How did they treat you?

What sort of things did they emphasize?

What makes you (enthusiastically) want to work for them again?

The more success we have, the further up the chain we climb, the easier it becomes to forget the roots of motivation - the things that might be most clear when we're in the thick of being a 'doer'.

Dan Pink, in his timeless work, Drive, identified the three pillars of motivation as: mastery, autonomy, purpose.

Mastery is your desire to get better at something. You might play music as a hobby. You might build model airplanes. You might knit. Why do we do these things? We can't make a living doing them and they're unlikely to help us find a mate.

We do them because we inherently enjoy getting better at activities.

Autonomy means our desire to have control over how we do what we do. Pink described this as being self directed. In most work, today (almost certainly for anyone reading this blog), your work requires many skills. It involves problem solving, and it likely requires skill at the intersection of technology and dealing with other humans. The research clearly shows that you will derive more satisfaction from doing that work if you have a good deal of autonomy, versus having to follow strict protocol.

As you can imagine, there's a delicate balance to it all on the management side - steer the ship, but don't get in a crew member's way.

And finally, purpose. This may not have seemed important in the past. But could we see it any more clearly now from millennials and gen-z? Our desire for purpose is a desire for our work to be tied to a vision, to know that the overarching goal of the company that employs us is bigger than ourselves, and bigger and more important than paying out stockholders.

Mastery - Autonomy - Purpose

For the team you will be leading, you know a carrot on a stick won't motivate them. Nor will threats of punishment. You know this because you know that wouldn't inspire you to bring your best self to work.

So, how might you bring mastery, autonomy, and purpose to a future team you will lead?

How might you bring the good characteristics of the best boss you've worked for to how you manage a project, staff, and teams?



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