Cause To Be Different

“But, don’t you think it’s important that a leader understands why people do what they do?” Bailey asked.

“The problem with understanding why people do what they do, is that we often look in the wrong place to find that answer,” I replied.

“What do you mean, where are we supposed to look?”

“Think about it. When you look to discover the why in someone’s behavior, what are your clues?”

“Well, first,” Bailey started, “I would look at their intentions, you know, their internal motivations.”

“And, why would that be important?”

“If I understood their motivations more clearly, perhaps I could genuinely influence their behavior toward the goals, expectations we set for the role.”

“So, you think you can cause the other person to be different?” I paused, waiting for the obligatory nod. “Bailey, I ask you to think about yourself, be honest, with yourself. How easy is it to cause yourself to be different? You think you can cause something in another person, that you find difficult to cause in yourself.”

7 thoughts on “Cause To Be Different

  1. Tom Foster Post author

    Hi, Bruce,
    The point of the story is to remind us that personal change is difficult enough to cause within ourselves and to engage in psycho-mumbo about motivation is not productive. Necessity is a key concept for Lee Thayer and a more productive way to elicit meaningful performance. Performance is performance, you get it when the manager/leader makes it necessary.

  2. Tom Foster Post author

    Necessity is a declaration, like the Declaration of Independence. The relationship between necessity and performance, or the how-to, for a manager, is to select those people who also see that performance as necessary. I cannot make anyone do anything, I can only search for and find those people who see and believe in the same declaration.

  3. Gail Boenning

    In this post, are you saying that only the individual can change behavior through internal motivation? What is the leader’s role in inspiring such motivation?

    1. Bruce Peters

      Been thinking a lot about this. As an aside been observing in my guide role that a very significant % of the time the failure to perform is actually
      a failure of clarity as to what is the needed performance. Tom, touched on this in his “declaration” comment.
      Does “necessity” as described by Thayer be at the intersection of external context matching personal internal context.

    2. Tom Foster Post author

      Hi, Gail,
      Inspiration comes in many forms, ultimately, it is the manager who must identify and enroll those people who are touched by the inspiration. Companies formalize that inspiration in VISION and MISSION documents, both are declarations.

      And, declarations are very powerful. Think about a border between two countries. One foot in the US, the other foot in Canada (I picked a non-confrontational border). It is a line which we all respect, but understand there is no REAL line, it is simply a declaration that the line exists, and (most) people respect that line on both sides.

      Show me your company. Is your company the building that people gather into each day? Is your company the paperwork filed with the state, articles of incorporation? Companies only exist because we declare them to exist.

      In addition to VISION and MISSION declarations, we also create stories (the Green Bay Packers have the Lombardi story) and legends. It is the manager who must identify and enroll those people touched by the inspiration.

      Alternatively, you could create a bonus program and enroll a group of mercenaries, but that rarely lasts beyond the bonus period. -Tom


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