Have you ever?

Leadership Artform: Asking the “right” questions to discover passion & increase motivation & engagement

A. Have you ever seen a team of individuals who brought an uncanny zest and zeal to their work? Have you witnessed a team of people who work together toward a clear and specific goal where every person is skilled, trained, AND loves their role? Have you ever been able to sit back and watch the focused intensity of people engaged in work where their passions are stirred and relied upon? OR
B. Have you ever watched a team of individuals come together (or work independently) with a lethargic, “Eeyore complex” as they approached a work project? Have you ever witnessed people moving through the motions of work with little interest or care for the process or results of their contributions?

Generally, people are drawn toward organizations, teams, and work groups where an innate synergy reveals itself in many intangible yet very real ways. I know I would want to engage in work with a group described above in the A. scenario.

We gravitate to work where we are valued. We are drawn toward leaders (employers, managers, team leaders) who demonstrate a desire to know us and our strengths and our passions – and then value these things in us and put them to work.

Most good-willed people desire to contribute to their work in meaningful and important ways. And most often, when we are working in our “passion zone” we bring our best selves to work and contribute in ways that add exceedingly great value to the end result and bottom line.

So as leaders, how do we motivate the people we lead?

Authenticity – it rings true. As leaders we need to know that inauthentic behavior, when we do not do what we say is important, can be spotted in us a mile away by those we lead. So before we can say, “Yeah, I want to get the most and best work out of those I lead…if helping them find their passion will allow me to leverage their passion which equates to better output and performance…show me how to do that!” we need to look at what drives US. As leaders, we need to self-reflect and understand our own passions. We need to work to incorporate our passions in our work.

When we possess authenticity in living our passions in our work, and when we find new levels of motivation in our work because our passions are involved, then we are at a place where we can authentically work with our team members to bring out the best of who they are. Only then are we able to enter into some informal coaching conversations where our role centers on asking the right questions of our team members.

4 Keys to Motivating Your Team Members
1. Know your passion. What drives you? What aspects of work do you love? What comes naturally and somewhat easily to you? What makes you respond internally with thoughts of, “I love doing this kind of work!”? More than money, what intrinsic passion is part of who you are that motivates you in your work? Think less about specific tasks and more about the common theme of overarching concepts. For example, it is less about, “Boy, do I sure love to write quarterly reports!” and more about, “I sure love hunting and searching for all of the detail needed to put together a complete and accurate quarterly report!”
2. Fuel your fire. How can you incorporate your unique passion in your work? What parts of your current responsibilities require you to use your passion? Can you begin to do more of those things? What might a conversation with your boss sound like where you communicate what that magical blend of work for you is where your passion is tapped into and you execute with excellence? (What manager doesn’t want to see his or her team members execute with excellence?!) How can you mentally focus on the fun involved in your work where your passion area is utilized?
3. Help others discover their passions. Often, when we approach conversations with someone about their passions, our skill has nothing to do with us having the right answers; our skill resides in asking the right questions. For example, some of the following may help someone begin to connect the dots of their experiences and begin to discover their passions. What 3-4 events or projects do you remember working in that you loved? What about your work on each of those projects sticks out to you? Can you describe one type of responsibility you would like to be tasked with in your current work? How can you describe aspects of that responsibility that resonate with you? Can you articulate now (or think on in the coming days) what 3-4 things you know you need in your work to bring out your best contributions? As you think about your past top three work-related projects, which would you say stirred your passion? We must remember that the individual we are communicating with holds the keys to discovering and articulating their passion. When they “own” this discovery, they generally begin to create ideas on how to involve their areas of passion in their work.
4. Motivate your people to work with excellence as their passions are leveraged. The great thing about this step is that as a leader, you do not have to “do” much in driving the motivation of your team members when you help them tap into their areas of passion. Once you and your team members have gained clarity on their passions, then together you begin to craft ways to incorporate their passion into their work. What ideas can you come up with as to how your passion may be more tapped into in your work? A simple question like this invites freedom and responsibility on the team member to think outside the box regarding how personal passions can be intertwined in work. Sometimes this may involve a shift of responsibilities. However, more often it involves you as a leader acknowledging the passions of each valuable and skilled team member, and then providing a bit of flexibility and encouragement for each person to utilize their passion in ways that may have not been recognized before.

I LOVE people development. I know that when I am able to help others discover their passions and then design plans to better incorporate those areas of passion into their lives and work – that is when I am at my best. This personal passion of mine to develop people and help them contribute to work and life in ways that resonate with the core of who they are connects to my other passion of helping teams improve their performance.

If you are a leader who wants to discover how to first, find and leverage your own passions to improve work performance, and then learn how to help your team members to do this, I would love to help! Shifting a work culture to a coaching culture may be a large-scale change. Because managing this type of culture change is what I do, I would love the opportunity to assist you with this.

Dr. Heidi Scott, the Leader’s Coach http://www.LearningPursuits.com

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