Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leadership, motivation and change

As I continue to think about leadership for change, I'm considering the chapter in Michael Fullan's book Change Leader entitled Motivate the Masses.  Fullan writes that to be a successful change leader it's important to be able to motivate people - in order to have the commitment of the group behind him or her.  The thing that most motivates people is experiencing success/improvement.   Fullan argues that motivation doesn't come first, and then followed by better implementation - it is the accomplishment that comes first that then causes motivation to increase.

Fullan writes about something called "motion leadership" for change that has 9 characteristics:
  • Putting relationships first - very important in new leaders because if you want to encourage people to change you have to first build a relationship and not simply take action.  It's important to listen and to solve problems collaboratively, which may mean slowing down, getting to know everyone and engaging everyone in determining goals.
  • Focus on the right priorities and take action sooner rather than later - beware of "fat plans" that take a long time to implement and see any impact.
  • Change behaviours before beliefs - new experiences lead to new emotions and feelings so successful leaders need to create purposeful experiences that lead to changed behaviours.
  • Watch out for the "implementation dip".  Anyone who experiences change knows that you go through a honeymoon period and then a dip.  Change is hard so leaders need to work on building capacity and working through frustrations and times when gains are hard to see.  A good leader understands and helps people to get through the dip.  (It occurs to me that this is very typical of international teachers moving to a new job/country - at first it seems great but around about October people find themselves in a dip.  A good leader needs to empathize with this and support teachers as they move through the dip.)
  • Communicate during implementation - Fullan writes that this is more important than communicating before implementation.  It's important that this is open, two-way communication so that leaders can see what the problems are and perhaps redefine the goals.
  • Learn during implementation - build collaborative cultures so that people can give feedback and learn from each other.
  • Avoid hype before implementation - but strive for small, early successes because excitement comes from seeing the results of doing something worthwhile.
  • Encourage people to take risks in order to learn - successful leaders need to establish a non-judgemental culture and appreciating that people learn from mistakes.
  • Combine authority with democracy - good leaders can be assertive when they have good ideas only after they have built relationships that empower people to act upon the ideas.
In situations of change, motion leaders need first to establish the conditions where people become intrinsically motivated and collectively take ownership of the initiative so that they are committed to keeping it going.  Once staff are motivated they will become the leaders who will sustain the changes.

Photo Credit: Pulpolux !!! via Compfight cc

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