Vince Coultis, Training & Development Manager for McClatchy Newspapers, had an interesting Linkedin post recently:
Skill power versus Will power. Or can’t versus won’t behavior. How do you coach for this when performance is the issue?
Vince’s inquiry fit so perfectly into our Adaptable Leader Coaching Formula that I had to reply. I received both an “Excellent!” from Vince and his permission to use the topic for a post at Dr. Tilden’s Sales Prescription. Here is the essence of what I wrote:
Performance = Ability X Motivation.
As I write in Rainmakers, Closers & Other Sales Myths, ability is comprised of both talents and skills. The former are accidents of birth, like being a tall basketball player or a competitive salesperson. A pure talent cannot be altered by coaching any more than a basketball player can get taller. Skills are the second component of ability. These can be acquired through coaching and practice. For a basketball player passing is a skill anyone can learn. Similarly, most any salesperson can be taught and learn presentation skills. The core takeaway here is that, to achieve maximum performance, a leader should recruit for talents and coach for skills.
The formula is purposely multiplicative. We all recall from grade school math that if you multiply a factor by zero, zilch is what you get. Thus, if you have an able salesperson with no motivation, you get zero performance in return.
But, let’s look more closely at how motivation factors into performance. Psychologists would argue that only the individual can motivate himself. The role of a leader, then, is confined to providing rewards. There are two kinds: Extrinsic and Intrinsic. The former are tangible, countable, and usually bankable. Research shows that extrinsic rewards only work when you want faster results. Alfie Kohn (1993) refers to this as the Great Jackass Fallacy. Imagine a picture of a carrot on the end of a stick. Now complete the picture. What’s chasing the carrot?
Thus, if your team is comprised of jackasses, dangling bonuses will get them to run harder. But, if what you need are human “work smart” kinds of behaviors like problem solving, analysis and creativity, intrinsic rewards are required. The answer puts most leaders in the largely misunderstood realm of intrinsic rewards: how to meet the different interpersonal needs of each team member. The good news on intrinsic rewards is that once a leader figures them out, they can have an enormous impact on performance with a nearly negligible cost.
How to customize and deliver meaningful intrinsic rewards is the central topic of our Adaptable Leader Program. https://www.tildensst.com/course-descriptions