I once attended a conference on leadership in Morocco, and one of the talks was about leadership and the impact of culture. While the content of the talk was excellent, I believe that much of its power and benefit were lost.
Why was that?
Well, it’s because of how the material was presented. While the information was valuable and should have led to an insightful and informative debate, what actually happened was that it alienated some of the audience.
The topic related to power distance, which is the extent to which power is distributed unequally between the highest and the lowest in the hierarchy. In this area, Morocco scored the highest, and it is something that needs to be addressed.
But when you are looking to motivate people, you have to create an inspiring vision. We have to motivate towards something.
It’s much more difficult to motivate people when we try to motivate them away from a situation.
But when you take this approach, people become defensive and often start to defend their position, giving excuses or maybe explaining that they are not that bad and that, in fact, there is someone much fatter than them.
Now we have lost focus on the thing we were hoping to address.
This is pretty much what happened in the presentation: people began to challenge the study, and any fruitful discussion was lost because people were disillusioned and demotivated by their alleged current position regarding power distance.
A better approach would have been to say that we have an opportunity to significantly improve power distance in Morocco, and with a bit of work, we could look to become one of the top countries in this area.
By saying that and not mentioning the current position, although it’s implied it’s not great, you will actually motivate people significantly more.
This is because you are motivating people towards a goal towards a vision, and people respond much better when we look to motivate them towards something rather than away from it.
If we look to focus on motivating them away, then we will demotivate them and make them defensive.
Have you ever had someone look to motivate you by telling you how bad you were at something?
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