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The Four Laws Of Leadership (Part Two)

By Brent Filson

In Part One, I described the laws of motivation. In Part Two, I'll examine the laws in more detail.

Law 1. Motivation is physical action. Motivation isn't about what people think or feel but about what they physically do. In leadership, you should understand the difference between inspiration and motivation.

The word "inspiration" comes from the ancient Greeks and the oracle of Delphi. The oracle would sit in front of a fissure in the earth and breath in (inspire) earth vapors and in a half-drugged state, make her pronouncements. For instance, when she told the Greeks only a "wall of wood" would save them from being annihilated by the Persians, it was the Greeks themselves who had to take action and build up a great navy that ultimately defeated the Persians at the Battle of Salamis.

Motivation, on the other hand, comes from a complex of words beginning with "mo." Motion, motor, momentum, etc. all denote physical action.

Getting people to not simply be inspired but motivated to take physical action may seem like a simple, even simplistic, approach to leadership. However, once you begin to see your leadership interactions in terms of physical action, you'll see your leadership, and the way you get results, in fresh ways.

For instance, in my seminars, participants develop Action Plans designed to achieve measurable and continual results back on the job. I have them challenge the cause leaders they enlist to take physical action by asking them, "What three or four leadership actions, PHYSICAL ACTIONS, will you take to achieve the results we need?" The difference between people simply saying they will execute their part of the Plan and their committing to specific physical actions leads to a significant difference in results.

Remember, people who simply take some action are useless to the organization. The useful ones are those who take action for results. For the end of all action in an organization is results. Therefore, the best action is freely chosen action directed toward specific results.

Law 2. Motivation is their choice. When you face a particularly tough challenge, avoid meeting that challenge by ordering people; instead, have people make the choices to meet the challenges.

An effective way to have them make the right choices is to ask them questions.

Here is a tip that you can start using immediately to become a more effective leader. Put question marks, not periods, at the end of your sentences. That's one of the best ways of developing an environment in which people are making the choices for results.

Some of the most powerful questions a leader can ask are: "What is our challenge here? Why is it worth tackling? How do we feel about it? Do we have the facts we need? Are we asking the right questions? What results are we really seeking? What's the worse thing that can happen? Why are we having this problem? Can you explain that further? What if we do nothing? Have we explored creative approaches? What do you propose? And what can I do to help?"

Law 3. Emotion drives motivation. The words "emotion" and "motivation" come from the same Latin root meaning to move. When you want to move people to take action, you must engage their emotions. I'm not talking about getting people emotional. I'm talking about having people make strong emotional commitments to what you're challenging them to achieve.

The best way to make that emotional connection is with Leadership Talks.

My experience working with thousands of leaders world wide for the past two decades teaches me that most leaders are screwing up their careers. On a daily basis, these leaders are getting the wrong results or the right results in the wrong ways.

Interestingly, they themselves are choosing to fail. They're actively sabotaging their own careers.

Leaders commit this sabotage for a simple reason: They make the fatal mistake of choosing to communicate with presentations and speeches -- not leadership talks.

In terms of boosting one's career, the difference between the two methods of leadership communication is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

Speeches/presentations primarily communicate information. Leadership talks, on the other hand, not only communicate information, they do more: They establish a deep, human emotional connection with the audience. For more on the Leadership Talk, click on my website in the resource box.

Law 4. Face-to-face speech is generally the best way to motivate people (i.e., have those people choose to be motivated.) A middle-manager told me, "Where is our new CEO? We call him - Elvis'. We seldom see him in person. There're only purported sightings of him. Maybe I'll see a blurry photo of him in one of those supermarket check-out tabloids."

In another company, a secretary said, "Our division chief stays in his office most of the time. But on the rare occasions that he's out and about, the only evidence of his existence is the odor of his pipe smoke."

Isolation may be good for monks but it's an affliction with leaders. When you want to motivate people, relationship is the name of the game; and you can't have a relationship, at least a productive one, as an absentee leader.

Get out and about. This is more than MBWA, (Management By Walking Around). The key is what you do when walking around. Don't be about simply sharing information but also creating the environment for motivation. People hunger to be motivated. Even more: people are ALWAYS motivated. And if they won't be motivated for your cause, they will be motivated for their cause 'a cause that may be at cross purposes with yours.

Make no mistake: Motivation isn't about bands playing, people cheering, hugging, and singing kombaya. Those are only the surface features of motivation. True motivation happens in the profound quiet of human relationships.

So, in your interactions, strengthen those relationships by keeping the laws of motivation in mind. When interacting with people, challenge them to take physical action, understand that motivation is their free choice, their HEARTFELT free choice, give Leadership Talks to develop deep, human, emotional relationships; and take opportunities to speak with them face-to-face.

2005 'The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at

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