Motivation is the reason or reason that we do something.
Inspiration is being stimulated to do something.
They’re very similar, but understanding the subtle difference is important if you’re going to lead a team.
I think the best leaders look to understand the motivations of each person on their team. They look for commonalities, but they also look at the individuals.
From there, the leaders look to inspire the team as a collection and as individuals to work toward a common goal.
The Successful US Ryder Cup Team
The US Ryder Cup team just won for the first time since 2008.
The golf match takes place every other year. The US has not played well in the event for more than a decade. They’ve now won in 1999, 2008 and 2016. That’s not the best record, but 2008’s captain, Paul Azinger, seemed to stumble on something that works.
Paul was on a podcast recently talking about the strategy he employed to help the players play the best they could. Each team is full of great players and it’s the players that play, but a leader can have an influence with how he or she inspires the team.
Azinger said that in 2008 he looked to key in on the motivation of each player. Obviously each player wanted to win, but some were more outgoing; they wanted to show off and gain recognition. Other players were turned off by crowds and external forces. They were more the strong silent type. Some players were more fun loving and laid back while others were more high strung and analytical.
Throughout the week leading up to the event, Azinger put the 12 players into small teams of 3 or 4 players based on their backgrounds and personalities. He also approached each player to learn their motivations and he interacted with players based on personality and motivation as a way to inspire.
Anthony Kim, for example, was outgoing, brash and high energy. Azinger brought energy to his interactions with Kim. Their conversations were fiery. Kim went on to be one of the better players on the team.
Azinger did this with every player. He knew that he couldn’t give a fiery speech to the entire team because some would react and others would be turned off. He took a more individual approach.
It’s not necessary to make this complex. The way to identify a person’s motivation is to get to know them.
Ask them questions about their lives, their hobbies and interests, what they want to achieve in life.
Ask what makes them happy, sad, angry, etc.
Ask about the important people in their lives and the ones they admire and the ones they don’t admire.
Ask about goals and dreams.
Ask about tasks they have enjoyed in the past. Ask about things that they haven’t enjoyed.
These questions and others like them will paint a picture of the person. Everyone is different, but people usually fall into a few basic categories of what motivates them.
Or maybe it’s better to think of motivation as a scale.
Some people, for example, are motivated more by external forces. They like making others happy. They like hearing from important people that they have done a good job on something.
Others are more internal. They do things mostly for their own reasons. They identify a challenge and stop at nothing to achieve it.
Some work well with others. Some work better alone.
There are numerous scales. No one worker is better than another, but you can identify if a certain type of person is the best fit or the opposite fit for your organization.
And you can key in on what motivates individuals and use that to their advantage and to yours.
Inspiration With Aligning Goals
Paul Azinger could see in 2008 that certain players were motivated by showing off and gaining admiration. They were outgoing and boisterous. They fed off the energy of those around them (the crowd).
Azinger keyed in on this motivation to fire up his players. He challenged them to golf in a way that would fire up the crowd while crushing the opponent’s spirit.
Azinger’s goal was for each player to win. The player’s goal was to win as well, but it was also to gain admiration. Azinger aligned those two goals so that the individual and the team would succeed.
You can do the same in your organization. Once you know what a person wants to achieve you can look for a way to align that goal with the goals of the business.
Let’s say you have someone on your team that is motivated to run a business. They like leading. You can set your business up so that this person can grow into an entrepreneurial position while having that position be an important part of your business.
I worked for a company that had positions like this. Managers acted like owners of programs and brands. It was very entrepreneurial and people motivated to lead businesses did very well in those roles.
Motivation and Inspiration are very similar, but they’re also different. Understanding the difference is important for leaders and entrepreneurs. If you want your organization to succeed you need to understand the motivations of individuals on your team so you can align those with the goals you have for your organization.