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Motivate Your Team! Cheer Up A Friend! Inspire Yourself!

Issue 292 - Maximum Motivation

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 6 Issue 292
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Whether it’s a business or a basketball team, leaders always ask: What’s the best way to motivate and keep a team motivated? In his fantastic book Wooden on Leadership, with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden offered this insight:
There are times when threat of penalty is effective for both school boys and adults. More often, however, a leader resorts to punishment because he lacks an understanding of its limitations as well as the skills necessary to create motivation based on pride rather than fear.
You might say that a leader has a simple mission: to get those under his supervision to consistently perform at their peak level in ways that will benefit the team. Your skills as a motivator determine if, and to what degree, this occurs.
I came to the conclusion that when choosing between the carrot and the stick as a motivational tool, the well-chosen carrot was almost always more powerful and longer lasting then the stick. In fact, simply withholding a properly selected carrot can become a most forceful punishment and powerful motivator. Its denial creates desire; the carrot becomes a stick.
Conventional carrots include money, of course, as well as advancement, awards, a corner office, or a more prominent role on the team or in the organization. Carrots come in many forms. However, I believe the strongest and most meaningful motivators are not necessarily the materialistic, but the intangible. In this regard, there is perhaps no better carrot than approval from someone you truly respect, whose recognition you seek. Acknowledgment, a pat on the back, a wink, a nod of recognition or praise from someone you hold in high esteem is most powerful – the most valuable carrot of all. At least, this has been my experience.
A leader who can motivate must be respected, not just feared. Coach Wooden was respected by his players because of his work ethic, knowledge, organization, honesty, humility and family values. Not all of his players liked him or agreed with his decisions when they played for him, but they did respect him and thus valued his approval.
A highly motivated team consists of people who truly enjoy what they do, whether it’s nursing, sales or basketball. Their enjoyment is enhanced by the leader who holds them to high standards, but removes the fear of failure. That leader unleashes the team’s maximum energy.
The highly motivated team acts with great resolve, fueled by pride in what they do, not a paralysis created by a fear of coming up short.
How do you lead?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Roses and Sunshine

Rough is the road I am journeying now,
Heavy the burden I'm bearing to-day;
But I'm humming a song, as I wander along,
And I smile at the roses that nod by the way.
Red roses sweet,
Blooming there at my feet,
Just dripping with honey and perfume and cheer;
What a weakling I'd be
If I tried not to see
The joy and the comfort you bring to us here.

Just tramping along o'er the highway of life,
Knowing not what's ahead but still doing my best;
And I sing as I go, for my soul seems to know
In the end I shall come to the valley of rest.
With the sun in my face
And the roses to grace
The roads that I travel, what have I to fear?
What a coward I'd be
If I tried not to see
The roses of hope and the sunshine of cheer.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881 to 1959)





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