By On Leadership
Sunday, January 10, 2010; G02
Barry Salzberg is chief executive of Deloitte. He is also a member of Deloitte's U.S. board of directors, the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu global executive committee and the DTT global board of directors.
To motivate people, words need to become action. As we head into the upturn and the expanding job market that will go with it, leaders would do well to focus their efforts around four critical qualities.
Transparency: In our case, during the downturn, I made a point of having town halls in which employees were encouraged to ask me any question, with all questions and all answers posted online. In turn, leaders at other levels are expected to deal with questions with equal candor. No ostriches. No elephants.
Appreciation: I always make it a point to thank people, and in that spirit, we've told our leaders be sure to let our best employees know just how much they are valued, especially during tough times.
Respect: Another form of recognition. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all jobs and inflexible hours. Today's worker expects to be treated as an individual, and will tend to stay longer in a job built for his or her unique needs. Such flexibility is challenging for a large organization, but we're building it into the way we develop our people.
Honesty: As the upturn approaches, people need to know that, as the economy improves, the rewards will come. Honestly having this conversation during tough times will make your position more credible as conditions improve. But then the organization needs to deliver.
In short, in good times or tough times, people are motivated when they feel that leaders share their goals and see the same picture. No ostriches. No elephants. No hidden agenda.
Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development. He was a Reagan-era ambassador and arms-control director.
No leader faced greater adversity, and inspired his troops with greater effectiveness, than King Henry V. That's why Winston Churchill modeled some of his greatest World War II addresses after Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech.
This frequently performed Shakespeare play is the tale of Britain's greatest king, and England's greatest triumph against tremendous odds.
On the morning of the Battle of Agincourt, Oct. 25, 1415, young Henry faced French forces who outnumbered him by more than 5 to 1 and had a cavalry and armor, while Henry had neither. Nonetheless, the king motivated his 6,000 exhausted, starving men with two key elements: He bound them together as a group -- "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers" -- and then attached a higher cause, a nobler mission, to their efforts.
Along the way, Henry painted a picture of victory by bringing the future into the present. He turned his greatest liability -- too few troops -- into a great asset, arguing that if more men were present, they'd only have to share the glory wider. Those "now abed in England," on this historic day, would forevermore regret they were not there, with them, in Agincourt.
Henry praised his top staff by name. He overcame objections raised by his troops the night before. He offered anyone doubting the mission a way out, even saying he would give such (cowardly or unwise) men cash and a passport.
He implied great incentives after their victory, by turning these commoners into real gentlemen with land and title. He transformed his noisiest and most disruptive doubter into a vociferous supporter.
Roger Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and author of the forthcoming book "The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage."
First, I have great empathy for those who have lost their jobs in this downturn.
However, if we look at the perspective of organizational effectiveness, I simply don't think the problem suggested in the question is a problem at all. It is an opportunity. In my experience, managers vastly overestimate the incremental value of an additional person and underestimate the cost. Typically they measure cost as salary and benefits and maybe space. But the big cost is coordination cost -- the need to meet with that person to give instructions, to review work, to build consensus, to evaluate performance, etc.
I learned this the hard way running a strategy consulting firm. When we got busy, we hired more consultants. But the net effect was always to reduce our effective capacity as we spent all of our time coordinating with the new hires, not serving our clients. More people was not the solution but rather the problem.
When I came to the Rotman School, I committed to having fewer staff in every department to be more effective than them, not to save money. How could Rotman have developed such a brand and such media and communications profile despite having such a small staff? It is not despite; it is because. We succeed disproportionately well on this front because we have stayed disproportionately small.
This small, elite team spends its time producing output, not producing memos; working on branding and communicating, not on holding meetings. If I doubled the size of the team, I would expect no greater output.
So don't think you have a motivation challenge. Think that your people have been freed up to be more effective. Encourage them, pat them on the back, and congratulate them when they produce more output with fewer people in 2010.
Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of "The Leaders We Need, and What Makes Us Follow."
Work ties us to a real world that tells us whether our ideas make sense; it demands that we discipline our talents and master our impulses. We need to feel needed. And to feel needed, we must be evaluated by others in whatever coinage, tangible or not, culture employs.
In this still-fragile economy, many people will be motivated at work they do not like mainly to keep their jobs for the sake of income and mental health. But a leader needs to engage them in work that is meaningful. This can be done by focusing on four R's: responsibilities, relationships, rewards and reasons.
We are motivated when our responsibilities are meaningful and engage our abilities and values. The most meaningful responsibilities stretch and develop us. Caring people are motivated by work that helps others. Craftsmen are motivated by producing high-quality products.
We are motivated by good relationships with bosses, collaborators and customers.
Rewards can be motivating, but they can be overvalued. Of course investment bankers will exhaust themselves for huge payoffs. And piece workers, sewing garments or assembling gadgets, will work harder producing more finished products for the extra dollars. But there is no evidence that teachers will teach better to make more money. Incentive pay focuses a person on particular tasks, like teaching to the tests. It can stimulate a doctor to see more patients, but not treat them any better.
Reasons can be the most powerful motivators. Workers doing repetitive work on an assembly line during World War II were highly motivated because they were helping to win the war. The same work in peace time would be boring. Leaders who articulate a meaningful purpose will most certainly gain enthusiastic collaborators.
Beth A. Brooke is global vice chair of public policy, sustainability and stakeholder engagement at Ernst & Young and is a member of the firm's Global Management Group and its Americas executive board.
The tumultuous times we lived through in the run-up to 2010 are the best breeding ground and catalyst for new innovations, ideas and initiatives. Innovative and entrepreneurial juices usually flow at high speed when the country is hit with a recession.
These are the times when size can hold companies back if leaders don't manage the global diversity of their organizations to produce unusually outstanding results, achieved differently than in the past. If cost-cutting wrapped up the last decade, this decade should be launched by innovation, stimulated by the friction of diversity (and not just diversity in the traditional human resource sense).
In 2010, this is the new language of leadership, and today's leaders will benefit from learning it. Organizations forced to do more with less have a grand opportunity to do more by unleashing the collaborative and innovative power of their global workforce.
Collections of empowered employees with different sets of human experiences can be great problem-solvers. While "polite" organizations driven by consensus may have been viewed as nice places to work, the chaos of ideas fueled by a well-managed friction of dissenting viewpoints may well produce the new products and services most needed by the world going forward.
Robert F. Bruner is dean of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. He writes a blog and has written several books, including "The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned From the Market's Perfect Storm."
So much of leadership is about framing the possibilities or alternatives. For many organizations today, the only way forward is to think lean, to use resources more sparingly while achieving equal or better results. But fundamentally, lean thinking isn't about cutting costs or people. Rather, it is about getting the waste or "stuff" out of our lives and operations: unnecessary meetings, approvals in triplicate, big inventories of material that you rarely if ever use, delays of all kinds, bloated expense accounts and the notorious three-martini lunches.
Anything that does not add value to customers is waste, and the Japanese have an evocative word for it: muda. Getting the muda out of our lives and workplaces can make for more satisfying work and higher morale: fewer "redos," less bureaucracy, lower frustration, greater identification with those we serve and a stronger sense of belonging to a high-performance organization. Early January is a wonderful moment, a time of New Year's resolutions, to get rid of the muda around us.
A year ago, I launched a lean-thinking initiative at the Darden School. Here are three lessons: The leader has to set the tone of lean thinking -- it can't just be about cost-cutting; it must be about transforming the organization. Second, the best ideas come from the front line, and the leader must therefore learn to listen well. Third, lean thinking entails a culture change within an organization, and culture change takes time. But managing change is what leadership is about. If all you want to do is cut costs, then you don't need a leader; you need an accountant.