Tier 2 Motivation

There are two kinds of motivation.  Understanding and applying them will make you a better motivational leader. 

By Brent Filson - 3/2009

The lyrics for the old Blues song say a lot about motivation and leadership. “You can make me do what you want me to do—but you gotta know how.”

All companies want/need motivated employees.  But employees who are simply motivated are useless.  The function of motivation is to achieve results.

The fact is there are two kinds of motivation, level 1 and level 2.

Tier 1 involves the motivation in doing a task.

Tier 2 involves the motivation of taking leadership of that task.

Knowing and realizing the difference between the two kinds of motivation can make a world of difference not only in your job but your career.

The difference is clear. Doing is the act of simply accomplishing tasks. It is contrasted with leading, which is a higher order of action and accomplishment, involving more initiative, energy, insight, and persuasiveness.

Most leaders challenge people to do.  They don’t challenge people to lead.  That’s because they fail to realize that any task always involves either doing or leading.

Take a basic task such as floor sweeping. (The principle can be used in all job activities.) One can simply do floor sweeping by pushing a broom.  Or one can take leadership of floor sweeping.  Taking leadership of floor sweeping involves more than pushing broom.  Such leadership might entail:

Otherwise, in a “doing” mode, one simply moves a broom.

If you agree that “leading” is a higher order of action than “doing,” the operative question is, How do we move people from doing to leading?

Here’s a 4-Step process.

1) Recognize the doing/leading duality. Whatever task challenges you, clearly see the doing aspect of that task and the leading aspect.

2) Identify the right leadership. There is right and wrong leadership, and many people go through their whole careers without clearly seeing the difference.  Wrong leadership is the order-giving variety.  Right leadership is motivational.  In fact, leadership is motivational or its running around in the dark.

3) Challenge people to lead, not do.  Understanding the difference between doing and leading is necessary but not sufficient.  You must get people moving from one to the other. The Leadership Contract.

4) Make it stick. Once you get people leading, not doing, you must make sure their leadership activities happen continually. Go here for 9 ways to make learning stick.

Moving people from doing to leading isn’t an academic exercise. It goes right to the heart of your job and career success.

Never accept people doing a task.  Always challenge them to take leadership of that task.

Employees must be motivated to achieve results; and that often means having employees do what the company wants but not necessary what they employees want—yet at the same time have those employees be ardently motivated to doing it.

Your leadership success isn’t, like in the Blues Song, making people do what you want them to do, but instead challenging them to lead.

That challenge, and their response, will change their world—and yours.


3/2009© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – Celebrating 25 years of helping leaders of top companies worldwide achieve outstanding results every day. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get his FREE report "7 Steps To Leadership Mastery"