For decades our greatest leaders were typically economic whisperers of sorts, with highly sophisticated knowledge of market forces. More recently we are discovering that this can only take us so far and is much more powerful when combined with a proficient knowledge of psychology; with deep awareness of our cognitive behavior and what really motivates us. Cognitive and neurological sciences have long ago discovered what we are now just beginning to scratch the surface on at a conscious level in context of business and leadership. July-August’s issue of Harvard Business Review has a number of great articles that begin to tap into this emerging discussion (The New Psychology of Strategic Leadership by Giovanni Gavetti and The Unselfish Gene by Yochai Benkler).
As our focus on customers, employees and communities continues to evolve, advancing our awareness in physiological and neurological sciences will become imperative. I was first introduced to these concepts by Cynergy’s Kes Sampanthar through the framework he has developed called Motivational Design. While this framework is geared towards technology, the principals are universal. I have since read Daniel Pink’s Drive which will not fail to surprise you about what motivates us, it is a great read that I highly recommend.
Nothing has had more of a profound impact on my approach than learning the basic principles of what motivates us; it adds unimaginable clarity and a powerful dose of humility at the same time. We are formidably guided and shaped by our biases and irrational predictability, learning about why we are the way we are empowers us to manage ourselves more effectively. Equally altering, it provides great clarity in our ability to unleash innovative new business strategies and engage with our employees, customers, communities and stockholders in much more collaborative ways.