The Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us on this island or lose the war…
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: “This was their finest hour.”
With these words, Winston Churchill, the stodgy has-been who somehow was given the Prime Ministership, galvanized an entire nation huddled in their homes awaiting bombardment. Through his thunderous voice booming across the airwaves, Churchill instilled a will to survive and an unshakeable spirit in the people of Britain.
Dr Alan Loy McGinnis distills principles of great motivators down into 12 principles recorded in his book Bringing Out the Best in People. Each of these principles has tremendous potential for application and one blog post can hardly do justice to even one of them.
Here is the full list of 12, but realize there are four indexed pages of names at the end of the book… Each name represents a story of how that person exemplified one of the principles somewhere in the book. So go read the book!
12 Rules for Bringing Out the Best in People
- Expect the best from people you lead.
- Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs.
- Establish high standards for excellence.
- Create and environment where failure is not fatal.
- If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons.
- Employ models to encourage success.
- Recognize and applaud achievement.
- Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement.
- Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge.
- Place a premium on collaboration.
- Build into the group an allowance for storms.
- Take steps to keep your own motivation high.
This may seem like a daunting list, but McGinnis reminds the reader on p. 16: “Motivators are not born – they are made. And they are almost always self-made.”
While some may possess several of these traits naturally, they can all be learned and implemented with increasing effectiveness.
Let’s explore the first of these twelve.
I promise in the beginning of this week’s video that we’ll discuss someone you have never heard of before.
That’s right, there’s almost no chance that you’ve heard of John Erskine before. Go ahead, Google him.
The thing is, you’ll have to go to the end of the second page of hockey player results to reach a result about this John Erskine.
While Google may pass him over for someone who has a twitter account, former U.S. president (and former president of Columbia University) Dwight D. Eisenhower called John Erskine the greatest teacher Columbia ever had. Teaching in the english department he was also a concert pianist, author of 60 books, and was described as having a defiant optimism.
His bullish view of the future became apparent when he would often tell his classes, “the best books are yet to be written; the best paintings have not yet been painted; the best government are yet to be formed; the best is yet to be done by [you].”
That kind of inspiration caused one of the most powerful men on the planet to call him, “Columbia’s greatest teacher.”
That sums up in a certain sense principle #1. “Expect the best from people you lead.”
Another way to look at this expectation principle other than simple sanguine predictions is the idea of necessity and building on people’s innate desire to succeed.
In one of the toughest experiences of my life, I realized the power of these points.
I was working on a campaign to elect the next governor of Texas. At 3 weeks to election day, our campaign manager got all of the staff on a call and announced that the final two weeks would be entirely filled with phone calling. She expressed her sincere belief that we could reach our individual call goals and reminded us of the stakes of the election.
After getting off the call, I realized that to reach my goal I would need to make over 1,000 calls every day myself within my districts. I knew at the rate I had been calling I couldn’t do that. After a brief period of fuming, I began figuring out how to change process so that I could hit my goal.
Our Campaign Manager sincerely expected the best of each of us on staff. I knew that we had to figure out how to make enough calls to voters unlikely to vote if they were not contacted and I had an intense desire to win.
Her belief coupled with these other factors motivated me to change my process, work longer hours, and stay at the office later during those last two weeks than I thought possible several days prior.
The study of becoming a great motivator and an effective leader is the pursuit of many lifetimes. Towards the end of the book McGinnis oversimplifies in an elegant way his view of the two things one must possess to be a successful leader: “1) an astute knowledge of what makes people tick; and 2) a spirit that spreads excitement and energy to other people” (p. 161).
I personally think that is far to simplistic but it wouldn’t be a great book if I agreed with everything, right?
I’ll leave you until next week with this thought from Zig Ziglar:
“Motivation is like a shower, you might not notice if you don’t have it every day, but those around you sure will!”
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