Monday, June 9, 2008

Three Ways to Motivate People

Motivating people is one of the key attributes that makes great leaders. There are three useful ways to motivate people, by command, negotiation, and persuasion.

Command - To direct with certain authority or prerogative.
  • Often useless, command is used when neither negotiation or persuasion works as a last result. Command is used in the military and is used to tell people what to do or what not to do. It is a one-sided communication and should be avoided when another method can not be implemented.
Negotiation - Mutual discussion or arrangement of the terms of the transaction or agreement.
  • More useful than command typically, you usually have to give something to get something in negotiating. Identifying what the other party needs and what you have to offer are the challenges. If you are able to identify these two, people will then try to get what they want while giving up as little as possible themselves.
Persuasion - The act of influencing the mind by arguments or reasons offered, or by anything that moves the mind or passions, or inclines the will to a determination.
  • The most desired method of motivation, persuasion will usually get a positive result at little cost on your part. Great leaders are typically always great at persuasion and getting others to do what they want and are great listeners. Leaders create ideas and persuade others to enforce them. Gaining respect from others and then using persuasion will enable the people who respect you to want to help you and will have a better attitude then the previous methods.

  • There are four steps to becoming a great persuader and four things to avoid. (from HBS - The Necessary Art of Persuasion)
    • Effective persuaders:
      1. must establish credibility;
      2. frame their goals in a way that identifies common ground with those they intend to persuade;
      3. reinforce their positions using vivid language and compelling evidence; and
      4. connect emotionally with their audience.
    • Ineffective persuaders:
      1. attempt to make their case with an up-front, hard sell;
      2. resist compromise;
      3. think the secret of persuasion lies in great arguments; and
      4. assume persuasion is a one-shot effort.
Definitions are from

While each method can be used in most situations, persuasion is the most useful generally, as it results in a positive output and requires very little of the leader. Great leaders press on to persuade people even when they feel it is impossible and resort to commanding or negotiating as little as possible.

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