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Question: How can I lead an unmotivated group of people?
I like to think of in term of these four approaches, which I learned about in a training workshop called Positive Power and Influence, devised by
The first two styles involve a push approach, in a way moving against your team:
This is often our default approach in the business world. We’re rational people and believe others are too, so we focus on putting forward our proposal and providing clear reasons why it’s the right path. It may be that your team simply lacks an understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and why, in which case your job is to be specific and clear in deploying your goals and how you’re going to get there.
This comes more naturally to some than others: using your authority to simply state your expectations and use a combination of carrot and stick to get people to comply. As with persuading, it may be that you haven’t been clear about what needs to be done and how important this really is, so making a bold statement here with incentives and pressures to support it can help to bring compliance.
The second two styles involve a pull approach, moving with your team:
This has always been my personal favourite, a kind of Socratic coaching approach. It involves sharing information, involving the team, and listening to their input. If the team feels completely disconnected and ignored then they’re unlikely to be motivated to work hard. Through a more inclusive approach you are legitimising discussion and you may be able to bring people onboard with a much greater degree of ownership.
Finally, and perhaps most appropriate in the situation you’ve described, you can share a compelling vision and establish common ground. Like bridging, this is about involving the team, painting a vivid picture of an inspiring vision for what you’re all trying to achieve, perhaps using a creative metaphor to do so, and getting everyone excited and motivated to join you on this journey.
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