What Motivates Your Team?

I f you watched the Oklahoma State vs. Baylor football game a week ago Saturday, you might have noticed that the commentators seemed at a loss for words on what to say as the game progressed. Even many OSU fans were surprised that OSU dominated the game the way they did! In the midst of all the commentating and speculating, I did hear one remark that made my ears perk up.

In talking about OSU’s defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, one of the sportscasters remarked that Coach Spencer said that he wants his players to play well, not because he’ll discipline them if they don’t, but because they don’t want to disappoint him.

Talk about two very different approaches to leading our teams – especially when both approaches can get us to the same desired result, but with very different consequences!

When we motivate our teammates to perform out of fear of discipline:

  • Their source of motivation is to avoid the bad consequences
  • They avoid risk-taking
  • They try to hide their weaknesses and are more likely to cut corners (or even cheat) to avoid the bad results
  • We create an environment of stress and unhealthy competition

When our teammates perform out of their desire to not disappoint us:

  • Their source of motivation is to make us proud
  • We encourage risk-taking and learning from mistakes
  • They have the confidence to play in their strengths and don’t feel the need to hide their weaknesses
  • We create a learning environment of excitement and potential

As a leader, what’s motivating your team?


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