Finding The Motivation for Leadership Development



You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.  C.S. Lewis

Vilas Desai responded to my post (5 Reasons Succession Planning Doesn’t Work) by writing “I would like to add on one more thing, based on my experience is WILLINGNESS of employee to succeed. We may put an employee in very wonderfully crafted succession plan but the employee is not intrinsically motivated then he/she will find all sorts of reasons to remain away. Therefore we need to measure willingness as well as the intrinsic motivation level of the employee to be a part of such plan or any external fear factors.

I couldn’t agree more.  Ignoring the importance of motivation would be to the detriment of even the most “wonderfully crafted succession plan”.

A typical session that we deliver to clients includes the following 3 activities to identify individuals’ motivations.


Participants identify early career goals, their ‘dream job’, and a current challenge / role in the organization.  We challenge them to identify 3 things in each that intrigues, inspires or interests them and then link it to actual competencies that they can develop.  Also, to look for a common thread that connects each stage of their career.  Essentially, let’s find your passion.

This activity always reminds me of an episode of Oprah (please note that I had the flu and there was nothing else on TV) where she interviewed a guy who quit his $200K job to open his own cupcake business.


Unlike the guy in Oprah, it is not realistic for many of us to drop everything to pursue our dream job.  So, is there a way to pursue your passion in a more pragmatic way? In this activity, we stress the importance of ensuring interests are grounded in reality and the requirements of their role.  We help participants connect the passion and possibilities identified in the previous exercise to opportunities that will benefit them and the organization.  At a high level, we challenge them to identify:

–       An outside interest / passion

–       What it is exactly that they like about it,

–       An organizational opportunity that will allow them to leverage the competency.

If we take the Oprah cupcake guy, maybe he liked that the cupcakes allowed him to express his creativity.  Looking for a project within the organization that tapped that creativity might have helped the organization retain him and who knows the incredible value that that would’ve brought to both parties.


The final exercise helps us tie everything together and explore whether investing in your development will benefit your career and your organization.  In this exercise, we simply identify What is Rewarded and by Whom under the following categories:

–       Organization

–       Management

–       Peers

–       Direct Reports

It is actually one of my favorite exercises to lead as we quickly find out how rewards are perceived and valued and there are always surprises.

Motivation is definitely a key piece for any successful development initiative as the development path can be a long one with many distrations.  However, I believe that it is our job to help our clients identify their unique motivations and then exploit that motivation to keep them on the path to success.  Rewards are one of the most powerful tools that we have to accomplish this, but that is a topic for another post.

Until next time…


About Glen.

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