In my many travels this month (eight days of trainings in Oklahoma, two in Boston, two in Springfield MO, one in Nashville TN, and one in Las Cruces NM), a recurring question popped up:
How do we get people motivated to act?
This question was stated to me via four questions:
- How do we get our student leadership board to take action?
- How do we get our adult teachers/advisers to start using technology?
- How do we get our field managers to adopt new practices?
- How do we get and keep our team members engaged in our monthly leadership study?
Although each situation requires different approaches, the basic strategy has one common thread: Your average person needs specific and clear direction in order to be motivated to act. It would nice (and easier) if everyone was internally motivated to constantly scan each situation and asking "how can I help out right now in the most meaningful and purpose-filled way?" However, we know two things are absolutely certain: 1) Leadership is not easy and 2) the reason leadership development is so important is because most people will default to their average behavior unless and until their better self is inspired to act. This direction that people need comes in many different forms, as well. Here are the suggestions given to the situations listed above:
- How do we get our student leadership board to take action? Make sure there is a clear and trusted leader in the group - either a highly-equipped adult or peer leader will work. Then give the team either concrete and/or abstract responsibilities. Make sure you "inspect what you expect." Remember, it is pointless to get frustrated that the board isn't behaving in a certain way when they haven't been told how to behave.
- How do we get our adult teachers/advisers to start using technology? Fear and purpose are the two big enemies here. Your average, mature human brain is very fearful of change. The best antidote for this fear is compelling purpose (second best is good ole' fashion basic training.) If you can demonstrate how the new technology will help them do their core job functions better, faster and more efficiently, then they will be more willing to get on board.
- How do we get our field managers to adopt new practices? Same strategy as number two.
- How do we get and keep our team members engaged in our monthly leadership study? Give them duties. This strategy is similar to how you can increase attendance at monthly member meetings or your garden variety social/family gathering. If you delegate small tasks (bring something, make something, create something, etc.), people will feel a higher sense of ownership in the event, as well as feel a higher sense of responsibility. Its easier to just not show up than it is to not show up AND be the one that didn't do something.