leadership and belief

By December 6, 2010Leadership

How do you motivate people?  If you are a parent, how do you inspire your child to tackle greater challenges?  If you are a boss, how do you get employees to produce consistent results?

While there are many answers to the question of motivation, I’d like to focus on just one: belief.  Not belief in terms of a “set of beliefs” or dogmas or even convictions.

But belief in this sense: people want someone to believe in and they want someone to believe in them.

Children desperately need someone to believe in. They need someone to look up to.  They need someone who will model for them the right values.  They crave consistency.

As they grow up in a world that is constantly changing they also need a steady presence that will reassure them, console them, even confront them when necessary.  In short, when they go through a season of self-doubt (as most kids do), that’s when they need a parent to believe in them.

Adults are no different.  In fact, they may be harder to lead because they apply a more rigorous sniff test.

Employees, players, co-workers … everyone is motivated by following someone they can believe in.  This means being honest about the risks and rewards, as well as modeling the behavior one is asking from another.

And they need someone who will believe in them.  Adult don’t need cheerleaders; they do need, however, someone who will draw out the best they have to offer.  This may mean coaching them when necessary.  It may also mean releasing them fly on their own — even at the risk of failure.  If we never let them leave the nest, we may be communicating a lack of belief in their abilities.

If you are a leader, parent, or coach, what are you communicating in regards to belief?