Is It Your Responsibility To Motivate Your People?

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Today I was posed a question:

“As a leader, is it your responsibility to motivate your people, or is it your people’s responsibility to motivate themselves”

In the room, there were around 15 of the most promising executive talents in the Telecoms industry in the GCC. About 50% answered that it was their responsibility as leaders to motivate their teams. The other half mentioned that, contrarily, it was the people’s responsibility to motivate themselves.

As people managers, it is my opinion that we have the duty to foster the right environment that catalyzes talent, nurtures performance, and enables people to stay sustainably motivated. Yet, motivation is a self-centered state of mind. It is how people perceive the environment around them that will determine how motivated they are. And so, this happens outside the sphere of responsibility of a leader.

A bad leader can certainly demotivate people. Similarly, a good leader can motivate them. But this happens as part of a context, and not necessarily taking the burden of motivation away from the individual. When a certain degree of normality is achieved, and all efforts have been done to create the right conditions for people to be motivated, the responsibility of a leader in the motivation of his/her people ends. A naturally, self-motivated person, will extract all possible positive parts of this environment and build its own “motivation-story”. Similarly, a naturally unmotivated person, will construct from the environment around them a story of demotivation.

In the end, I believe that motivation is still a person’s choice. My advice? Make the cake and eat it.

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