Soldiers — people — require purpose, motivation, & direction (PDM, it’s not really an acronym, I’m just too lazy to keep typing that for the rest of this note). Leadership is defined by the Army as the process of influencing people by providing these three things to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. Influence is described as “getting people-military and civilian, governmental and non-governmental partners, or even bystanders such as the local populace-to do what is required.” Influence is a factor of the PDM that you provide, but in my experience, most people won’t be responsive to PDM if their needs aren’t being met. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stipulate that there are foundational needs that take priority of our lives as long as they are not being met. If someone’s needs are met or provided for, they are able to focus better on others and their needs, including the potential influencer.
Also, I’ve noticed that Soldiers are easier to motivate and influence than civilians. Soldiers are receptive to leadership by default since they are part of the U.S. volunteer Army. They all chose to be here (were not conscripted or drafted), ergo, they all start at the point of desire. They acknowledge this desire and it is a part of the foundation of why they are here, in uniform. They at some point were convinced or convinced themselves that being in the U.S. Army was something they wanted to do, which makes them receptive by default (but not always). This meets the ‘M’ of PDM (Motivation), so as a leader you only have to provide Direction (usually in the form of orders) and Purpose (the why behind these orders, which is all too often overlooked by Army leadership). There is a basic need in the Army to be able to expect Soldiers to do what their told, but this should be a last resort used only in situations where there is no time to explain why, and rare is the situation in which there is no time to provide your team members a ‘why.’
Civilian Business professionals are a little more tricky. Their primary motivation seems to consistently be “whatever it takes to get money.” Their reasons to enter the workforce are rarely more than a financial move, and thus their motivation is as weak as their monetary compensation. Everything they do, learning, team building, networking, etc., even if it seems to be in good faith, it is little more than a complex ploy to keep getting money or to get more money. Their interest in their work is not earnest, it is just what they have to do to get better at their job and thus earn more money. Their interest in developing professional relationships only goes as far as the perceived need to get to know that individual. Even if it looks like they are going beyond expectations in order to establish a relationship with that person, they are just meeting their perceived need to get to know that person, and will even feign authenticity in order to meet that need.
To be clear: I believe that a business professional’s work can be inherently fulfilling and their interest earnest. I believe that individuals that work for greater goals than money and who have true care for their profession can form sincere relationships with other professionals because it stems out of that foundational desire to grow their profession and themselves. This is more the exception than the rule, and I believe that it comes from a failure for the majority of people to feel like their needs are being met, so that their pursuit of monetary gain isn’t the driving force behind their actions. If there was a provision for people so that they feel more financially secure, that may free them up to think about their interests in their profession, since the lower levels of their hierarchy of needs have been met. I think I just convinced myself that Andrew Yang might be onto something.
Some people are in certain professions to achieve positions of power or prestige. Giving these individuals more money will not meet their perceived needs, they need to feel powerful, respected, and/or influential. Not sure how to meet that need unless we were to foster a culture of inherent respect for one another and each other’s professions.