Are You A Taskmaster Or A Prospector? - Proteus Leadership
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Are You A Taskmaster Or A Prospector?

Setbacks and challenges are embedded into the fibre of business, education, customer service and parenting. Finding the motivation to get up and keep going is the life blood of success.

The age old question of ‘are people more motivated when we use incentives / desire (carrot) or reprimands / fears (stick)?’ is flawed. People are not robots that simply respond to external stimulus to determine their next move, but rather, people are bubbles of great creativity, influence and potential that is looking for inspiration.

The carrot or stick question assumes that the answer is either one of these two options, or a ‘healthy’ combination of both. Applying this archaic and short sighted methodology to evolved people is both insulting and ineffective, and results in people feeling resentful and apathetic.

The next problem is assuming that you can inspire people through negative reinforcement. By providing harsh feedback or having the threat of failure hanging over your head will not bring out an inspiration and enthusiasm. It will bring out compliance and competence not because of a desire to learn and passion to thrive, but rather to simply avoid punishment, embarrassment, or shame. It is not the goal for any organisation to have fearful employees.

If the only measurement of success is outcome, then it won’t matter what method you use to motivate people. However, if you want people who take initiative, have passion, and genuine interest in what they do, then you might want to look beyond punishment.

Similarly, trying to entice people to buy into goals and targets using hollow incentives is like the immediate rush you get from chocolate followed by the energy dive and flat feeling caused by a drop in your blood sugars.

Unlike a seedless watermelon or a square tomato, you don’t need to artificially engineer motivation. People are naturally self-motivated when they are inspired.

Inspiration isn’t manufactured through incentives or fear.

Inspiration isn’t manufactured at all.

Inspiration is liberated when a person feels a sense of possibility, probability, and pride.

Possibility is created when you look at a goal and feel how great it would be to achieve it. When you stretch your imagination beyond what everyone else is doing and think beyond the boundaries and get excited by the idea of what you see. Possibility is the marriage of hope and optimism. When you entertain possibility, it creates a natural spark, and an endless curiosity, that can create enough energy to power a small town.
Possibility is fostered when leaders encourage their team to step up and have a vision when creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is rewarded and not shot down because ‘it’s not how we do things around here’. It happens when people have the courage to be proactive with growth and change.

Probability is created when you feel you are capable of achieving your goal. It reaffirms that success is within your reach and that you are sufficiently skilled to accomplish it.
Probability is destroyed when leadership focus, or comment, solely on your failures, shortcomings, mistakes, or inaccuracies, and neglect to acknowledge your achievements and progress.

Pride is the positive reflection you have on your actions. It is the
building of self-worth that creates a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. Pride is the permission to gloat without boasting, to feel worthy without hierarchy, and to accept accolade with great modesty.
Pride is pushed down when self-doubt and negative thoughts take control of your ego. Pride is lost when you buy into the mindset of ‘never being good enough’, ‘can always do better’, or ‘there is always more that can be done’. Tall poppy syndrome eats up pride for breakfast.

A teacher that only comments on what students do wrong, and makes no acknowledgement of what they do correctly drains away enthusiasm and compliance, then they become frustrated and apathetic. It is important to understand that good students can be taught, but great students are inspired.

If you lead or manage people, be inspired as you do it, and look for ways to elevate possibility, probability or pride of those around you. Inspired people lift the energy of others just by the way they are.

What sort of impact are you creating in your workplace?

Republished from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) –


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”