Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Motivation is Driven by Emotion

Emotion and motion come from the same Latin root meaning, “to move”.  When you want to move people to take action, connect to their emotions. An act of leadership motivation is an act of emotion. In any strategic leadership endeavor, you must make sure that the people have a strong emotional commitment to realizing the end result.

Recently, a chief officer of a worldwide services company said, “Now I know why we’re not growing! Our senior leaders developed our marketing strategy in a bunker!” The document was some 40 pages long and single-spaced. The points it made were logical, consistent, and comprehensive. It made perfect sense. That was the trouble.

It made perfect intellectual sense to all of the senior leaders. But it did not make experiential sense to the people who had to carry it out. The action folks had about as much input into the strategy as the window washers at corporate headquarters. Therefore, the team members never felt an emotional tie to the action plan. As a result, the document did not serve its intended purpose or support the team’s vision.

Team members are more effectively motivated when they can personally relate to the tasks necessary for carrying out a strategy, especially when it is newly introduced. Only then does the plan have a real chance to succeed.

–Adapted from


A Season In Words by Dan Spainhour

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