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Is it really just about the pay?

Some people argue that it all comes down to pay. Without money, you can’t buy food, pay the rent, pay the school fees or even pay to get to work. Well, yes, but while pay is a big part of a good job, there are many other motivators of high performance.

International investigations of the meaning of work – among workers in the USA, UK, Japan, West Germany, Sweden and Israel – have found that financial reward is held in balance with work interest, belonging, friendship and a chance to do something useful. Asked about ‘work goals’, people tend to put pay towards the bottom of their priorities, with opportunities to learn new things, interpersonal relationships and promotion at the top of the list. Being empowered, valued and involved in decisions are also key.

Whenever you ask followers what they want of leaders, the reply you’ll get is that they want good communication, the ability to motivate and integrity. Research carried out recently by Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann, the executive search and leadership consultancy, found that being a good communicator is the quality most commonly associated with being an effective leader. The ability to motivate staff is seen as the second most important characteristic and having a good moral compass is seen as the third most crucial ‘boss factor’. All three work together and contribute to bosses being seen as ‘inspiring’.

Sadly, however, fewer than two in 10 employees see their organization’s leaders as inspirational.

Why? Well, let’s be honest. Can you inspire all your staff with a single great speech or presentation? Perhaps you can. You might well be an incredibly gifted orator. Most of us are not. But, even if you can, the inspiration from a brilliant speech will at best be transitory. To achieve lasting inspiration, you need much more. You need constant, courageous, powerful conversations. Too often, however, these conversations are neglected, and middle managers are neither trained nor equipped for, nor measured on, their ability to hold these crucial conversations.

Too often also, top management doesn’t check on the quality of those conversations, nor seek to get the feedback from these conversations in a systematic way.

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