April 14, 2008

What Motivates the Motivators?

The motivators…you know …those managers, leaders, coaches and speakers who inspire us and get us up and moving. What motivates them? Are they more motivated than everyone else?

Managers are instructed to create a motivational climate for their employees. They are also taught to identify the motivational needs of their employees through tools and training focused on the major theorists such as Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg. There is a focus on what managers need to do for others but not too much on what motivates the motivators. What gets them motivated every morning to come in and inspire the “troops” to better performance and productivity?

We have coaches for sports and life coaches to help us achieve our professional and personal goals. Look up Life Coach on Google and you get 704,000 possible hits. Wow…that business must be booming. Do we need that many coaches to motivate us? What motivated the coach to develop their business to help the rest of us succeed?

Then there are the motivational speakers. The folks companies hire to speak to their groups to lift their spirits and encourage high levels of enthusiasm and therefore performance. So who motivates these folks? Is that water glass up on the podium filled with motivational juice?

Having been a manager, human resource professional and now a training consultant, I’ve long been curious about motivation. My first promotion into management earned me attendance at the management training class Motivation and Productivity where I learned all about the motivational theorists and how to apply them with my team. That was in 1980. Now in 2008 I teach the same theorists as part of the PHR/SPHR Prep class at the University of Dallas. I feel like I know these guys personally.

A fairly new term is employee engagement. An engaged employee is one who is committed to their work. Obviously an organization needs engaged employees. It seems though, engagement is motivation packaged under a new name.

When you look at the root of the word motivation you see it is “to move”. We’re always moving toward the things we like and away from the things we don’t like. So perhaps managers, coaches and speakers are not really more motivated than everyone else, they are just motivated to pursue what they like, which is motivating others. So what do you think? Are people attracted to these positions because they enjoy motivation? If you are a manager, coach or speaker, what motivates you?

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