“Do you feel inadequate, insecure, insignificant, or something else? Is that emotion causing a desire to turn the conversation toward you, to demand overtly or covertly to be seen and heard? Are you tempted to hijack the conversation or meeting in some way to highlight the significance of your experience or achievement?”
The Root of Motivation
Leadership is influence. Influence requires inspiration – a vision of what is possible, knowledge of your resources, and motivation to take the risk.
At the same time, inspiration is impossible if you spend most of your emotional energy drawing attention to yourself, enticing people to listen to your story instead of someone else’s.
Last month we began a discussion about root motivations: Respect, Value, and Approval. One of these three motivators drives your responses to everything you experience. Let’s take a look at your heart again and see how this plays out.
Root Motivation: Value
If you feel a deep need for attention and affirmation and feel frustrated or defeated when you don’t receive it, you are most likely motivated by value. Just as a respect-based person viscerally hates failure, being wrong, being incompetent, not having clarity, and not being respected, a value-based person is deeply incensed when they feel ignored, insignificant, not listened to or heard, misunderstood, or second-guessed. When their button gets pushed, they can begin to manipulate everyone around them to seek and siphon value.
Whether they are aware of it or not, they enter almost every conversation or situation seeking a way to vacuum value from it, turning eyes and ears onto themselves, building identity from others’ attention.
All of us are inclined to speak and act in ways that show others what we want them to see or what we believe they want to see about us. We do this to appear competent, receive approval, get something we want, or avoid a conflict. Value-based people are more masterful at creating these façades, so much so that without their willingness to be transparent, almost no one will become aware of their deceit nor ever know their true identity.
They will feel the most frustrated and painful emotions when they are thwarted in their attempts to gain value, or when someone with a different root sin is unaware or unwilling to meet their need.
I have seen the root motivation of value play out vividly in several fields: among politicians, actors, musicians, company leaders, business owners, and athletes. My guess is you live or work with several people who make themselves the center of attention, sometimes with creative subtlety. It can take the form of a well-dressed sophisticate, a loud storyteller, or a disengaged mope: attention and affirmation move toward them.
From Value to Inspiration
Like wisdom is the anthesis and antidote for respect, the positive direction for value is toward inspiration. We shift attention from ourselves to others by dropping our entitlement to being heard, understood, and significant, which vacuums value from every conversation, social event, and meeting we attend. We refuse to feed our addiction to personal significance, to manufacture and preen our façade, to manipulate opinions and impressions.
Think about how this new perspective and purpose would affect your relationships. If you often find yourself in conflict because you believe you are unheard, unappreciated, or devalued, pause and examine how that perception makes you feel and how you reflect that to the other person.
Can I Get Your Attention, Please?
Ultimately, are you tempted to see another person, as they express their views and knowledge, as a threat to your value or as a gift to be valued? Now step back and look at the situation. Why do you so desperately need to be heard right now? Are you willing to drop that entitlement and listen with the intent to know what others need?
I like the reminder of two acronyms: WAIT and WAIST.
Why Am I Talking?
Why Am I Still Talking?
If you turn to listen more often, you will begin to see your conversations become more fruitful, and your relationships will start to thrive rather than wither. You will also see how your personal gifts enhance your groups and communities because you now contribute from your true identity. You also become an inspiration for others to drop their own entitlements, see each other as gifts rather than threats, and focus on the value you bring to each other.
We move from vacuuming value out of people to pouring value into people. Your influence becomes an inspiration to live into the vision you see for them.
I like how John Maxwell builds up the levels of leadership in his book How Successful People Lead: Taking your Influence to the Next Level. At each level you bring increasing value and inspiration to the people you lead.
- Position – People follow you because they have to.
- Permission – People follow you because they want to.
- Production – People follow you because of what you have done for the organization.
- People Development – People follow you because of what you have done for them.
- Pinnacle – People follow you because of who you are and what you represent.
If you’d like someone to walk you through these in your own leadership, let us know. And, don’t forget to check out our recent podcast episode! Episode 03: Are You Paying Attention — to Me?
To Your Health!
Resources for this topic:
- Some food for thought from Henri Nouwen as you solidify your identity.
Move beyond these identity constructions:
1) I am what I have
2) I am what I do
3) I am what other people say or think of me
4) I am nothing more than my worst moment
5) I am nothing less than my best moment.
- Simon Sinek – 5 Inspiring Lessons in Leadership
- John Maxwell – How Successful People Lead: Taking your Influence to the Next Level
Q&A for this topic:
Moving from Value to Inspiration.
- Do you have a deep need to be valued? How are you filling that need?
- Do you feel significant? Why or why not? What makes someone significant
- Does anyone know your true identity?
- Do you look for the value of others? Can others help you see value?
- How have you spoken that value over others?