What does Kindness have to do with Motivation?

Filed under Leadership | Posted by MMeloni

Some of your team members are motivated by the need to feel connected. If you have studied motivational theories, then you have come across McClelland’s theory. This theory basically states that people tend to be motivated either by a need for power, a need for affiliation, or a need for achievement. To be more accurate, you and your team members are each motivated by a combination of these three needs and for each of you, the formula for your combination is a bit different. Perhaps you have a team member who is 60% achievement-driven, 30% affiliation-driven, and 10% power-driven. Another team member might be 60% affiliation-driven, 20% power-driven, and 20% achievement-driven.

When you bring kindness to your team, you are drawing on a potentially powerful motivational approach. The connected team does a much better job working together to reach difficult milestones. Kindness does not just help those who are motivated by affiliation kindness helps the whole team.

Let’s start with your team members who have a need for affiliation. When you provide them with that affiliation within the team, they become excellent supporters of those who have a strong desire for achievement. They are happy to have strong and healthy relationships and frequently know that this comes from helping others. Additionally, the feeling they receive from being part of a shared success story helps to strengthen those feelings of affiliation. Experiencing success helps to motivate your team members who have a strong need for achievement. See how that works?

It should be noted that sometimes those who have a strong need for achievement prefer to work alone, but this is not always the case. It is possible to reinforce the experience of achievement reached through teamwork to encourage collaboration. It is also acceptable to allow those who prefer to work alone to have the ability to complete some of their work alone.

What about the team members who are driven by the need for power? How does a leader really gain power? Think about your role and your ability to exercise power. Yes, some of you are able to exert power simply because of your position and title. Some of you are able to exert power because your team members are afraid of you. But for most of you, your power comes through your ability to influence.

The need for power as defined in McClelland’s theory is about the enjoyment of organizing and influencing others. In a very extreme case, this would be without the enjoyment of any type of affiliation. Back to you, your ability to wield power is tied directly to your relationships. The relationships you have with your team and with your stakeholders. You are able to lead people because they are allowing you to lead them. Your relationships are a form of affiliation. Affiliation is a sense of connectedness. Exhibiting and experiencing kindness helps to build those connections.