In our September wePRAY we touched on continuing our theme of looking at other’s wisdom and seeing how we can apply it at east to west. Within our leadership team, we’ve been long-term admirers and converts to the writing of Patrick Lencioni, an American business leader and author, whose books use ‘fable’ as their basis for teaching. Whilst they are written for an American market (all the scenarios would be familiar to US companies), there are still chunks of solid gold teaching for those of us on this side of the pond, to whom the contexts may seem strange.
Over the next few months, we’re going to explore Lencioni’s most recent book – The Motive – which focuses on the why or leadership, rather than the how. Hopefully we’ll get a better understanding about how motivation plays a role in leadership, how this applies to our work at east to west, and what it may mean across a wider context.
As always with our wePRAY’s we’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and feedback… it’s how we grow and get better.
wepray - October 2020
Motivation for being a Leader?
I don’t know about you, but I have this thing in my house where one or other of my children will come and tell me when the other child has done something wrong! It may be petty things like ‘telling them to get lost’ or ‘they won’t play with me’ through to more serious things like ‘he’s drawing on the wall’ or ‘she’s just sworn’. As a parent my natural response has become – ‘Why are you telling me this? What is your motivation? What do you want me to do with your complaint?’ 9/10 times it turns out that one child is trying to get the other into trouble, however, occasionally, they are motivated by doing the right thing and their sibling really has drawn on the wall! I remember when my son, Joe was about 18 months and Millie, my daughter then aged nearly 5 came to tell us that he’d written on the wall. When I went to look, written neatly in big, finger spaced letters were the words ‘Joseph wrote on the wall’. One look at our fridge covered in scribbled crayon drawings my wife lovingly called art, suggested that Joe wasn’t the mastermind behind this handwriting, but rather it was Millie trying to pull off a creative con!
Motivation is a strong influencer when it comes to work and the choices we make. If you were to pause and take 60 seconds to answer this question (in the context of work) ‘why do you do what you do?’, how many of you would barrel through and not stop? How many would think the question wasn’t applicable… or were ‘too busy’ to pause for 60 seconds? How many of you would avoid the question because it’s difficult or you’re unprepared to suggest or hear an answer? What if the question was more specific… ‘why do you lead?’ Would this change your response?
The key premise for Lencioni’s book ‘The Motive’ is just this – what is our motivation to be a leader? What drives us to intentionally put ourselves forward for leadership positions, whether at work… at church… on a sport team, or even at home? Wherever there is the need for leadership, the question is simple. What is the motivation for putting yourself forward for the role?
At its most basic, Lencioni argues that there are two defining motivations for being a leader. To give you a snapshot of each, I’ve borrowed Lencioni’s words entitled ‘The Two Motives’:
“At the most fundamental level, there are only two motives that drive people to become a leader. Firstly, they want to serve others, to do whatever is necessary to bring about something good for the people they lead. They understand that sacrifice and suffering are inevitable in this pursuit and that serving others in the only valid motivation for leadership. This is why it annoys me that people praise someone for being a ‘servant leader’, as though there is any other valid option.
The second basic reason why people choose to be a leader – the all-too-common but invalid one – is that they want to be rewarded. They see leadership as the prize for years of hard work and are drawn by its trappings: attention, status, power, money. Most people understand intuitively that this is a terrible reason to become a leader, but it’s important to identify specifically and tangibly why this is such a problem.” (pg131)
It should be added that with all things in life, not everything is quite as clear cut or as simple as this! As leaders, we are all susceptible to both these motivators, or of remaining in roles as a result of what it brings, after all no-one is perfect. But the key question we should be asking of ourselves is what is our predominant trait?
As we delve deeper over the coming months of wePRAY, we’ll learn about and challenge ourselves beyond ‘leadership is about serving others’ as this is too simplistic (and could have been done in a single month)! Hopefully we’ll develop a better understanding of our motives, how we can become better at identifying and challenging them and explore the impact that these motives have not just on ourselves, but in our work and relationships too.
So maybe it’s worth revisiting the challenge I made earlier… take 60 seconds to think ‘why do you lead?’ After all, only you really know the answer…
This month we’re praying for me (Dan!) During Autumn 2020, I’m celebrating 10 years at east to west, firstly as a Relational Support Worker, then latterly as Head of Income and Communication. I’ve had the best of both worlds, working face to face bringing hope to young lives, and now helping facilitate our brilliant team in doing it across 15 different projects!
Please pray for my stepfather who fell at home and fractured the neck of his femur. Whilst the operation (to fix this) has been successful, he’s been suffering with post-op delirium which is causing confusion and uncertainty. He’s making a positive physical recovery, but the delirium continues. Pray that he’s be able to return home quickly – to a space that he knows – and that his recovery would continue.
Pray for Tracey (my wife) as she works in school kitchens. At present she’s covering in a different kitchen which has proved a challenge. Please pray as she takes on new roles and responsibilities, and that she’d remain safe in a busy space.
Pray for Millie and Joe (my children) as they return to school. Pray for their classes and how they interact with their friends. Also pray that they won’t be too damaged by being the basis for the numerous examples I use in wePRAY!
I’m a school governor at Ashford Park – pray that I’d be able to be an effective witness as well as a critical friend to the staff there.
Christmas! We’ve got a couple of ideas we’re hoping to run over the Christmas period to help raise much needed funds for our work. Pray that these would be a success, and that people would engage, raising much needed funds.
Applications: Pray for the applications to grants making bodies and trust funds. Pray that God would inspire the words, and open hearts and minds in those receiving them. We estimate we need to raise around £80,000 this year and given the impact of Covid-19 on finances, this could be a real challenge. Pray that God would both be our focus and inspiration over the coming weeks and months.
Communications: Pray as we continue to look at how we communicate and engage with supporters. We’re looking to begin using more video over the coming weeks and months – pray that this would be both effective and well received (as well as adding to our offer, not detracting from it).
Training: I’ve recently done some training on Wellbeing in Education, which we’re being asked to deliver to schools in partnership with Surrey County Council. Praise God for this opportunity and that this would be a great opportunity to grow our reputation and awareness across a wider range of schools and potential partners.