If ever there was a time when politics needed motivation, then it is now! Politicians themselves need motivation, given the amount of abuse heaped on them. People need to be motivated by politicians if we are going to have a healthy democracy. And finally, we want policies that motivate us too.
Motivation is a little understood art judging by performance, but what about science? We at Motivational Maps have recently had the opportunity to work with a fair number of elected politicians across the political spectrum, certainly all major political parties, at Council and Ward level, and including some pretty senior Mayors and leaders. What have we found?
First, in four training sessions in the
The aggregated results of all 53 councillors makes fascinating reading. First, 53 councillors are on average 70% motivated, which is a refreshingly high score. Ideally we want people to be at 80% or more – the so-called ‘zone’ of high energy – but 70% as an average suggests they are currently firing up on all cylinders! Is this the election effect? What will their motivational score be once the election is done – and they achieve the result they want, or alternatively, they fail? Slumps in energy may have disastrous effects on their wards.
More important in the science of motivation, however, than how motivated they are, is what motivates them. The rank order of all nine motivators from top to bottom for these councillors are: Searcher (1), Spirit (2), Creator (3), Director (4), Expert (5), Star (6), Defender (7), Builder (8), and Friend (9). This of course is just the jargon: what does it mean?
Councillors in this sample are motivated primarily by the (1) need to make a difference; (2) the need for autonomy; and (3) the need to innovate or change. Following those three imperatives, they want – power and control (4), expertise and mastery (5), recognition and social esteem (6); and flagging up the rear end, they need security (7), money (8), and belonging (9). The implications of all this for their functioning as councillors is quite profound.
The first observation is that the top three motivators are what we call Growth or Self motivators – they represent the top of the Maslow Hierarchy – people in search of self-actualisation. That sound good? Yes, but – this is an ideal ‘consultancy’ profile; in the world of business where we use this tool, we find that the combination of Searcher-Spirit-Creator is a classic ‘consultant’ profile. By their very nature, then, these are not team players, may prove difficult and awkward to manage, and may not be so good at skills where other motivators prevail. For example, the Director motivator is fourth – this is the motivation to take control of people and resources.
Further, these motivators are ‘fast’ – people with them tend to make snap and intuitive judgements. Interestingly, Expert as a motivator – the desire for mastery and understanding of a topic is exactly fifth, or half way, in the list. To be motivated by expertise, by definition, means one goes slower – acquiring true expertise is always a slow process. So, making snap decisions can be useful, can be effective, but invariably needs to be balanced by other ‘voices’ who consider more of the facts.
Another small point is what Hertzberg called ‘hygiene factors’ – in this case, the lowest motivator is ‘Friend’ – the need for belonging, friendship, involvement. My point here is simply this: politicians spend a lot of time going on about forming communities and how important they are, but we can bang on all we want about that as a topic, but if at a deep level one is not oneself really motivated by such a concept, then – in our experience – the skill and knowledge set fails because the motivation is not really there. At the end of the day we promote something without much energy; for energy with a direction is exactly what motivation is.
Perhaps gratifyingly, and bearing in mind all motivators are equal, so no motivator should be despised because it happens not to be ours, Builder – the motivator for money – is second lowest. Given the expenses scandal, it is a relief to find that 53 councillors have decided to run for public office not for the money involved, but for the difference they can make – the Searcher! Now, that is good news.