Who motivates the motivators?

We often forget that leaders are human too. In these uncertain times what can you do to ensure that, whatever happens in future, your leaders are more able to cope, lead and thrive?

 We live in unprecedented times (it must be true, I read it in the papers). And yet, our expectations of leaders haven’t changed. We expect them to perform and deliver in the same way as they would have done in ‘normal’ times. Not only that, but we expect them to motivate the people in their charge at a time when everyone is struggling to make sense of the world.


So it begs the question ‘who motivates the motivators?’ Who makes sure they’re equipped to take on this new and relatively untried and untested role?


There’s been a lot of research suggesting that during the pandemic employees –whether homeworking or key workers – are not receiving the leadership, communication and guidance they need.

The conclusion is that the mental health of employees is suffering because organisations and leaders are not doing enough.


One key point is missing. Leaders, regardless of their success in the organisation, are human too. They have many, if not all, of the same concerns, fears and uncertainties as everyone else. And the fact that they're paid more, have better benefits, bigger offices (when that mattered), doesn't make them any more able to cope with the physical and mental pressures we’re all facing. Oh, and just like us, they’ve never done this before, so not every decision is going to be right or timely, nor will all their decisions stand the test of 20/20 hindsight.


Possibly the most significant ‘underclass’ of leaders are those people in the middle –not senior enough to avoid direct responsibility for results (or the lack of them) but close enough to the ‘coalface’ to be able to hear the clamour from the workforce for more motivation and greater assistance with their mental health.


The fact is that no one, wherever in the organisation they sit, signed up to do their job in the middle of a global pandemic, nor did they necessarily expect to be managing a 100% remote workforce. It’s quite possible that their skillset lies elsewhere. But the old adage ‘you can only play the hand you’re dealt’ was never more true.


Somehow, we still expect their performance not only to be maintained but to step up to the additional demands made on them from all directions – results from above, motivation from below.


Managers/leaders are not used to managing in a situation they can neither influence nor change. The relentless nature of the crisis makes it a tough scenario to lead in.

 Let’s start with one basic truth:

Most people are doing the best they can but, with the right interventions, they could be doing better – and looking after their own mental health too.


How can organisations equip their leaders to handle this situation? And what can you do to ensure that, whatever happens in future, your leaders are more able to cope, lead and thrive.


You need to be able to answer four questions:


  1. Who in your organisation is doing well?
  2. Are there any teams/individuals that are making positive progress?
  3. Are there any factors unique to that team/individual that predispose them to be successful in a crisis?
  4. What are those factors?


Question four is always the key one. Knowing something’s happening – but not knowing why – can be one of the biggest frustrations for organisations. Even worse, guessing what it might be, and implementing plans based on that guesswork, can be hugely successful – if you’re right!


But if you’re wrong, there are no prizes for travelling at 150 miles per hour if it’s in the wrong direction!


What’s lacking is objective information on which to base decisions on developing your less successful leaders and motivating your teams, whether they’re remote or office-based, whether it’s mid-pandemic or business as usual (or they’re coping with whatever the next crisis is).


That’s where your assessment provider should come in. If you want to know:


..what makes a great remote worker or remote manager in your organisation…

..which candidates (internal or external) could be your next VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) Leaders…

..what makes some people successful, and others not… to reduce the gaps between your best people and the rest…

..if a candidate has the proven characteristics to be successful in your organisation before they join…

your assessment provider should be able to tell you.

Well-informed leaders make better people decisions, so if you want to know how to upgrade the performance of your workforce, leaders and managers, and your assessment provider can't tell you, then maybe it’s time to upgrade to one who can.

For more information please go to Great People Inside