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November 2018
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December 2018

Motivational Maps Round-Up 2018



It was a busy year for me and for Motivational Maps as a whole, but we’re so excited with all that’s going on with the maps. The greatest thing for us is seeing what other people are doing with the maps and how they are using our tool in their own way, deepening the collective knowledge base and taking what maps has to offer into new fields. In the light of this, I’ve been co-authoring books in my series Mapping Motivation to expand the knowledge-base with input from others. Two of these books were published by Routledge this year: Mapping Motivation for Coaching (co-written with Bevis Moynan), which is all about one-to-one coaching and mentorship, and Mapping Motivation for Engagement (co-written with Steve Jones), which is all about engagement and the big picture of getting employees on board (and why the modern work environment is so dis-engaging). We had launch events for both books in London at the Judge’s Court. Both were fabulous events. I must thank everyone who attended and all our sponsors!


I’ve also published a fair few of articles, on a variety of platforms and about various things, but particular to maps are my Motivational Memos. I thought, what with it being the end of the year, it would be good to revisit some of those articles as we review the year. So, here are three (for three is the magic number) of my favourite articles published in 2018, and some of the reasons why! In no particular order…


Recruitment and Motivation

Recruitment is such an important issue. As many people go through Christmas and the New Year, it will be with the prospect of new beginnings on the horizon, a fresh start for next year. While some undoubtedly still consider this corny, there is something to be said for, once a year, re-evaluating what you are doing and why and seeing if there are not ways you can do it better, or perhaps somewhere else that you should be. Recruitment is the hiring of new staff. In the New Year, many companies will be inundated with people looking for new role and new futures. So, now is an important time to review your recruitment practices, and, almost more importantly, your recruitment philosophy!


What the World Cup 2018 Can Teach Us About Motivation

The World Cup was a major event this year for many people and, whilst I am no major football fan, it was quite inspirational to see even snippets. We saw that it is possible to break from the paradigms and ‘curses’ of the past, that strong leadership, in the form of Gareth Southgate, can develop people in a kind-hearted way. Southgate cut through even entrenched psychological game-playing and negativity that had besmirched England’s playing ability (and frankly honour) for years. He was the embodiment of gentlemanly machismo. No posturing, no aggression, just quiet determination and confidence. Many managers, if they are looking for a role model, could do well to look to Gareth Southgate. Why not make it a 2018 resolution (or as I like to call them: intention)?


Motivation & Psychopathology

An expanded version of this article actually appears in my book Lotus Eaters & Myrmidons. It is all about how, beneath Maslow’s secondary hierarchy of drives, lies the deeper drive for survival, and some people, regardless of living in the modern world and a first world country, are stuck in this instinct. It is very difficult to motivate or coach people like this. It is even difficult to give them therapy. We must, all of us, deal with difficult people in our lives, and people who are struggling to survive because they have created needs for themselves which must be met at all costs (read: addictions). Though we go forward to the future positively, we must remember not to go blindly, and I think this article can help people identify and deal with those dangerous individuals that might lurk in the office!


So there you have it, a recap of my three favourite articles. Which is your favourite from the year? And what are your intentions as we move toward the end of the year and into the next?


Wishing you all happy holidays!


The Need for Resilient Leadership

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Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who came to our Mapping Motivation for Engagement book launch last Thursday (29th November). It was a fantastic event, with some brilliant talks and insight and laughter. Most of all, it very motivational indeed, which is what it should be! I certainly learned a lot from being there.


Today, I want to talk about so-called ‘Resilient Leadership’. Cary Cooper, the well-known professor and business expert, depicted some while ago the hard times we live in and suggested a call for resilient leaders. He paints a vivid picture of the stresses the economy is undergoing and suspects the SME sector in particular will be severely hit. The changes coming will no longer be optional but inevitable, so embracing change becomes the mantra. To do this we need what he calls ‘resilient leaders’ and elsewhere ‘real leadership’.


I guess I am not being merely pedantic when I say that all leadership is ‘real’ enough, certainly for those experiencing it; and resilience may not be a quality we want in certain types of leaders: the case of Hitler springs to mind – he who was incredibly ‘resilient’. If only he hadn’t been.


What the words ‘real’ and ‘resilient’ are actually disguising is a sort of adjectival tautology: what we want are leaders who lead. What we want are - to use the Jim Collins’ terms - good and great leaders. There, I have said it. ‘Real’ and ‘resilient’ give the impression that we are talking about something objective, that we can empirically conjure up and control in some way; ‘good’ and ‘great’ are just so purely subjective that they seem all froth. We end up knowing we have great leaders only after the event - which is useless when we want to appoint them in advance. As Cooper says, ‘Britain needs them by the hundreds and thousands, if it is to prosper’.


Interestingly, the activities that these ‘real’ types undertake, according to Cooper, are allowing staff ownership of the business problems, increasing their decision making, listening and supporting. In short, they do less command and control, more empathy, sensitivity and openness. Indeed, they possess more personal qualities that require ‘real’ character - the ability to engage with another human being without rushing to tell them what to do and how to do it.


This is a tall order even in undemanding times. With the pressure of the economy weighing down on business owners, how likely is it that they are going to opt for character over control faced with spiralling loss of revenue?


What is really needed I think are new ways of approaching how staff and teams work - and specifically of tapping into the motivational core of performance. We should try this because it is quite clear the alternative - what we are currently doing - doesn’t work. As was observed during a talk at the book-launch: Engagement levels have remained at around the 30% mark (i.e. 30% of staff are engaged and 70% are disengaged) for the last 30 years! Given the massive amounts of research and investment into engagement, a sum that is no doubt in the billions, this seems almost inconceivable. What is wrong with this picture? Well, it’s clear the reason we haven’t seen any significant progress is because at a fundamental level it is all coming from the same place, the same top-down and command-and-control approach. If we are to truly engage people, and to truly lead them, we must have, as Cooper advocates, empathy.


To this end, then, Motivational Maps have an enormous role to play: they can provide the missing language and metrics which have so far bedevilled attempts to make the soft skills rigorous and measurable. It should be noted that narrative, the true object of language, is actually a form of healing. In this way, the Maps are not just a business tool for insight, engagement and personal development, they are also a therapeutic tool in some regard. (More on this in future articles!) The Maps can provide the link to performance that is so necessary; and we know that performance leads to productivity. And guess what? Productivity leads to profits – if the strategy is right. Part of that strategy needs to be the people, and especially the leaders. Call it resilience; call it great; but for crying out loud let’s put the language and metric of motivation at the heart of it.