Why lead? #HBR asks the $20,000 #leadership question

One of the most telling questions you can ask someone in any kind of leadership role is what motivates them to be a better leader.

The Harvard Business Review wants us to ask the hard questions so we can find real answers to make our leadership better. Motivation is everything.

“Those with internal, intrinsic motives performed better than those with external, instrumental rationales for their service — a common finding in studies of motivation. We were surprised to find, however, that those with both internal and external rationales proved to be worse investments as leaders than those with fewer, but predominantly internal, motivations. Adding external motives didn’t make leaders perform better — additional motivations reduced the selection to top leadership by more than 20%.  Thus, external motivations, even atop strong internal motivations, were leadership poison.”

So what are your motivations? Internal? External? What’s driving you to lead in your community, in your family, in your work? Do you have a purpose?

“Robert McDonald, awaiting confirmation as the new Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, wrote about his own internal motive to lead while CEO of Procter & Gamble.  In a personally authored document titled “What I Believe In,” McDonald kicks off three pages of leadership principles by first describing his motivation to lead:

“Living a life driven by purpose is more meaningful and rewarding than meandering through life without direction. My life’s purpose is to improve lives. This operates on many levels. I work to improve the lives of the 6.5 billion people in the world with P&G brands, and I work every day to have a positive impact in the life of just one person.”

What are you working for? Answer these questions to follow your purpose:

  1. What keeps you awake at night, when you’re thinking about the world?
  2. What inspires you?
  3. What do you do that wakes you up, gets you charged?
  4. Now that you’ve answered these questions, you can name at least three things that motivate you, from within.

Leading from your purpose is the best way to lead with integrity and focus.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: