3 Rules of Values-Based Leadership


English: Motivational Saying

English: Motivational Saying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Effective leaders know and follow three important rules regarding human motivation. Here’s what effective leaders know:

1) The golden rule, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” is broken.  Dr. Tony Alessandra, Ph.D. created the much more relevant “Platinum Rule®: Do onto others as they want done onto them.”

A leader will naturally  lead the way he/she wants to be led based on his/her motives and values.  This works well if the person one is trying to lead shares similar values, but is highly frustrating for both the leader and the follower if they hold opposite values, which is highly likely.

Knowledge of both one’s own values and your follower’s values allows the responsible leader to appeal to follower’s needs/motives and values so that the follower is motivated to follow the leader’s vision.  The reason people tend to follow is the leader’s vision matters to the follower and satisfies one or more of his/her needs and therefore the follower values the vision enough to be motivated to follow.

How does a leader discover his/her values and his/her followers’ values?  Reiss Motivation Profiles® (RMP) are the most effective means of understanding the sixteen common human motives/values.  Both leaders and followers can complete RMPs and then compare results.

2) “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”-Dr. Stephen R. Covey.  We always observe and interpret others’ motives through the lens of our own values.  This naturally flawed method of motive evaluation is not accurate nor predictive of others’ motives/values and behaviors.  We try to put ourselves in other people’s’ shoes to understand why someone behaves a certain way and we end up disguising our own values in their clothes which often do not fit and wearing our own shoes.  We understand why we might be motivated to behave the way someone else behaved in a situation, but we are never sure why they were actually motivated to do so.  This leads to a leader’s frustrated and true exclamation, “I DON’T KNOW WHY SOMEONE WOULD EVER DO THAT!”  The leader doesn’t know why someone would behave the way they behaved because the leader’s value lens blurs the observation with the leader’s natural value’s blind spot and prevents the leader from being able to understand why someone might be motivated in an opposite way than the leader.

RMPs allow leaders to greatly increase the level of motivational and values-based behavioral understanding of both themselves and those they lead.  Knowledge of followers’ RMPs allow leaders to more accurately predict followers motives and values.  The reason someone behaved the way s/he chose to behave is s/he was motivated to do so.  RMPs are the flashlight to shine insight into one’s motives blind spots.  Understanding one’s motives and values and those of one’s followers is critical to be an effective leader.

3) Dix’s 1st Law of Motivation: How you feel about what you do ultimately motivates you more than how successfully you do it.

Feelings matter and impact decisions and behaviors.  Leaders ignore and minimize the role and impact of emotion at their own peril. Logic is not a very strong motive.

At the 2012 World Society of Motivation Scientists and Professionals Conference in Washington, D.C., one esteemed presenter forwarded the concept that humans are all drug addicts. We are motivated to think and behave in ways that release the most desired, naturally produced neurochemicals in our brains.  We do what feels good and do it again and again to get our internal neuro-fix. Emotions are an indicator of our needs.   There is truth in the saying, “If it feels good… do it.”  We may rationalize many behaviors, but ultimately we are motivated to satisfy our greatest needs and when we do so we feel good.  When we deny our needs, we feel frustrated or worse.

We are motivated to do more of what satisfies our greatest needs even if we are not particularly effective nor successful at doing the actual task.  This is why there are so many happy enthusiasts, hobbyists and armatures.  They are in active pursuit of their bliss and enjoying the neurochemicals payoffs of satisfying their needs.

Leaders who understand the emotional side of motivation can understand a more complete picture of the dimensions of human motivation and can then lead from the heart as well as the head.

Leaders who seek to master values-based leadership must strive to lessen the natural tendency to view others’ behaviors through the leader’s value lens. The leader must use valid, unbiased information on followers’ motives to genuinely understand and predict their behaviors.  The Reiss Motivation Profile® is the proven tool to provide this level understanding and insight into motives/values.

These three rules are the first steps to effective values-based leadership (VBL). VBL can be highly effective to unlocking the full potential of both leaders and followers and lead to new levels of sustainable performance.

If you would like to obtain your Reiss Motivation Profile®, contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com.

Are You an Effective Cat Herder/Leader?


No truer leadership video has ever been made!

Alignment is a key determiner of effective leaders and organizations. Basically, the best leaders tend to be the best cat herders. They are skilled at adapting to a fluid, ever-changing situation and are able to guide their teams and organizations to their goals.

At the International Society of Performance Improvement’s (ISPI) annual conference, it was reported that research suggests that any organization that has more than five members is by definition dysfunctional. That explains a lot doesn’t it?  It’s hard to keep your team all on “the same page” when the “characters” are constantly trying to run off the margins.

When leaders assume that dysfunction is the natural and expected state of their organization, they are free to focus their time, energy and resources on minimizing the impact of chaos and dysfunction by constantly checking for and adjusting the general group’s perception of alignment.

Often leaders and managers become frustrated when Pandora’s box of issues continues to break free of the band-aids and duct tape that the leaders constantly apply. Instead of becoming frustrated and feeling like a failure, the effective leader, simply expects the fixes to be temporary, monitors constantly for signs of slippage and change, responds to the latest information, plans for future solutions and marvels that a temporary solution holds for as long as it does.

Not many leaders have discovered that the goal is alignment and become discouraged when they realize their vision and mission is not understood, and practically and uniformly applied by their field staff.  They expect perfect alignment after their webinar or e-mail that explains their vision and are surprised and alarmed when they confront dysfunction and conflicting perspectives.

One of the keynote speakers at the ISPI conference said that the best managers are best at managing messes.  I would add that the most effective leaders and managers are those that expect to have daily messes, focus on mitigating the most meaningful messes that are causing the organization to lose alignment and don’t allow the ankle-biter messes to distract them. They have an appropriate tolerance for minor messes and accept them as a natural part of the organizational chaos that they are trying to herd towards their goal.

Saddle up leaders! Your herd of felines awaits. It’s time to fire up and find your meaningful messes!

Abundant Capacity


Look out! Potential!!

Image by M0les via Flickr

The Meaning of Abundant Capacity

One of the greatest challenges and rewards of coaching executives is trying to help them uncover or discover their abundant capacities.  I tend to call them strengths, but lately I am liking the words “abundant capacities” more and more.

Abundant means to have an ample or more than sufficient supply.  Basically, whatever you have that is abundant is more than enough to meet your needs.

Capacity means one’s mental or physical abilities.

Put those two words together and you have been gifted with abundant capacities which are more than enough to make you capable of reaching your goals and a satisfying your life’s purpose. Discovering your abundant capacities allows you to live up to your full potential.

Where You Focus Is All You See

Many of the leaders I coach have lost sight of their abundant capacities that make them capable of greatness. They have become focused on their limited capacities that make them incapable of doing what they believe will make them successful. We are all just one failure away from facing our limits.  The question is, will we allow our failures and limited capacities to limit our achievements and pursuit of our destiny?  The most significant leaders do not.

Significant leaders are keenly aware of their limitations in certain capacities and develop strategies to cut their limitations’ impact and surround themselves with other people whose abundant capacities make up for the leader’s limited capacities. Leadership and management guru, Peter Drucker wrote, “All work is for a team. No person has the skills and abilities to do every job. The purpose of a team is to make the strengths productive and the weaknesses irrelevant.”

When confronted with 360 degree feedback from peers, bosses and direct reports, most leaders quickly gloss over their abundant capacities that are readily identified and fixate on anything that is reported as a potential limit or weakness.  By definition you cannot expand a limited capacity.  There is not such thing as 101% of anything. If you only have an ounce of compassion that is hardwired into your being, then expecting to develop 100 pounds of compassion by next Wednesday, may be a bit unrealistic. Yet, I have seen leaders who have been blessed with abundant capacities lose sight of this and constantly agonize over any limit they perceive as a fatal flaw. They begin to foolishly major in minor things at the expense of developing their more abundant capacities.

Life’s Challenge

God does not make mistakes.  He made you the way you are for His reasons. If you develop your abundant capacities and turn them over to His guidance, and direction, then you might get a chance to use them on His behalf. You will become an active participant in God’s eternal plan.  You’ll know if you do, because this will be the most satisfying experience of your life.

A reporter asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta if she had ever wished that she could have done more to help the poor.  She answered, “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” 

Are you listening for your calling and purpose?  Are you ready to test all your abundant capacities in a risky venture that is sure to fail in the end?  We call it living.  And while our bodies might ultimately fail us in death, our significant legacy may live on eternally.

What gifts have you been given in an abundant capacity?  Who can you team with to make your limited capacities irrelevant?

If you need some help discovering your abundant capacities, get a copy of my non-profit book, “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!”   http://www.booklocker.com/books/4765.html

I give all the money I receive from book sales to CHADD.org, the national non-profit organization that helps people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).  My hope is that this organization can help those with AD/HD and those who love them, to find ways to focus on their abundant capacities and not view AD/HD as a limitation.

You have abundant capacities! Using them will make you abundantly capable of achieving your significant goals and will fire up your life! What are you waiting for? Have faith!

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