As an employer, my interest is in creating long-term changes that hopefully lead to better moral and ethical decisions from both myself and my employees. With this in mind, I’ve generally found that there are two ways to go about motivating others. The first is to affect them through fear and manipulation tactics or by offering them some kind of positive reward. While this type of influence can often bring about results in the short term, in my experience, it rarely leads to long-term behavioral change. The second way I believe people can be motivated is to be the kind of person, through direct action and personal example, that other people want to emulate. For me, this is an open-ended and ever-evolving process that is based around creating conditions in the workplace that foster a safe environment for people to drop their fear-based behaviors and begin to show up more authentically.
In essence, the kind of motivation I’m talking about is a top-down leadership approach where the employer comes to be seen as somebody who operates from a place of integrity and level emotional disposition. And by integrity I mean someone who is coming from a place of high moral and ethical standards in his or her own life, a person who behaves in a way that he or she can then justifiably expect employees to strive towards emulating as well.
The Four Pillars
My financial services company is based on four core principles, or pillars, which I hope trickle down to my employees in some way. I hope that you can find some benefit from their use as well.
- The first pillar is to have some daily practice of silence/meditation. Find a technique that works best for you, and take some time each day to quiet your mind and senses so that you develop more control over your thoughts and interactions. You will be able to think more clearly and function more effectively. Stress is contagious, but so is stillness.
- The second pillar is to understand how important it is to find your true purpose in life. The people who are truly happy are those who are so focused on what they’re doing that they don’t have time to think about whether they’re happy or not. Every morning when they wake up, they feel like they have something to contribute to the world—and if they don’t do it, they’re simply going to burst. Most of us spend our entire lives waiting for someone else to tell us what our unique expression is, or we kind of intuitively know what it is but are waiting for someone to come and reinforce it. Trust your intuition. It knows. Your intuition is the compass that will lead you toward the life that you are meant to live.
- The third pillar is to have a forward vision, three to five years out, of what your unique creative expression looks like in the world. People need to give their energy a direction to move in. Otherwise, they flounder. It’s like getting in a car without a navigation system and driving around with no idea where they’re going.
- The fourth pillar is to find a way to give to others rather than to look for what you can get out of your dealings and interactions. It may seem like a cliché, but I believe it is true that the more you give the more you will receive. If you’re solely focused on what you want to get, chances are you’ll get nothing. It’s a weird paradox, but when you let go of wanting anything, you can have everything. But don’t take my word for it—the only way to see if this is really true is to put it into practice with sincerity and for an extended period of time and evaluate the outcome.
When a leader operates from this place, and can generate tangible success from this foundation, then his or her influence becomes an organic process that in many ways is the antithesis of the fear and manipulation and the short-term reward approach. Learning how to cultivate this more authentic type of influence is an important part of creating the improved business world that many of us long for.
Jeff Gitterman is an award winning financial advisor and the CEO of Gitterman & Associates Wealth Management, LLC. (www.gawmllc.com). He is also the co-founder of Beyond Success (www.BeyondSuccessConsulting.com), a consulting firm that brings more holistic values to the world of business and finance. This article is partially adapted from his first book, Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, published by AMACOM, the publishing house of the American Management Association. Over the past several years, Jeff has been featured in Money Magazine, CNN, Financial Advisor, London Glossy Magazine and New Jersey Business Journal, among others. In 2004, he was honored by Fortune Small Business Magazine as “One of Our Nation’s Best Bosses.” He also serves as chairman of the advisory board to the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, an organization that to date has raised over $1 million for autism research and support services.