The purpose of communication, beyond relaying information, is motivation. The great orator is the stereotype of the good communicator. But a real motivator positively engages the body, heart, and mind. Negative motivations — threats of punishment and tirades designed to make others feel small — have no lasting impacts and are often counterproductive.
Authentic leaders will rely on their own personal leadership styles rather than trying to follow some supposedly correct approach. Experienced leaders have learned how to adapt their styles to a variety of situations. Inexpert leaders lose their way through arrogance, isolation, and poor judgment.
The best way to motivate people is by drawing on their deepest desires. Sociologist David McClelland identified three types of internal motivations:
- The need for achievement. People with this need want challenging goals and must see results and advancement.
- The need for authority and power. People with this need want to be influential and effective, perhaps increasing their personal status.
- The need for affiliation. People who are motivated by affiliation want to be liked and held in high regard by their peers. They need friendly relationships at work.
Most people exhibit a combination of these needs, but McClelland argued that achievement-oriented people make the best leaders. They tend to set goals and work diligently toward them. The only pitfall for such leaders is their tendency to demand too much of their teams. People need to be brought along throughout an endeavor and treated as a team in which all members can contribute usefully. Respect and appreciation go a long way.