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ON MOTIVATION: ‐ Myth: “Leaders motivate people”

“Leaders are supposed to influence followers. But what is this is not true? Influencing ‐ with or without authority ‐ is often predicated on the ability to motivate. But recent studies on motivational theory demonstrate that true motivation, initiative and engagement come from intrinsic motivation/self‐management rather than from extrinsic motivation, the one that comes from outside.

Kenneth Thomas’s theory of “Intrinsic Motivation” describes 4 key drives: Choice, Meaning, Progress and Competence. Today’s leaders better start learning about motivation, and start identifying their own “inner motivators” and the one of the people around them to tap into their power of influencing.” – A. Pianesi

ON VISION – Myths: “Leaders create buy‐in” “Leaders are problem‐solvers”

“Often leadership courses are designed to teach people how to lead followers. So the entire design of the learning experience is a way to address the following questions: As leaders, how can they get others to follow them? What is this whole approach was wrong?

The dominant view of leadership is that the leader has the vision and the rest is a sales problem. I think that notion of leadership is bankrupt. That approach only works for technical problems where there’s a right answer and an expert knows what it is.

When a patient comes to a surgeon, the surgeon’s default setting is to say, “You’ve got a problem? I’ll take the problem off your shoulders and I’ll deliver back to you a solution.” In psychiatry, when a person comes to you with a problem, it’s not your job actually to solve their problem. It’s your job to develop their capacity to solve their own problem.

Many intractable political issues, such as civil war, poverty or ethnic tension are complicated, and solving them may require a whole nation of people to change their mindset. As they approach these sorts of “nontechnical” problems, leaders should think less like surgeons, and more like psychiatrists.

In such cases, the people are the problem and the people are the solution, and leadership then is about mobilizing and engaging the people with the problem rather than trying to anesthetize them so you can go off and solve it on your own.” – R. Heifetz

ON BEING RIGHT – Myth: “Leaders get it right”

“The number one job of leaders is facing reality. Facing reality means facing up to mistakes and failures — especially your own failures.

In the mid‐1990s, Bill Gates made a big decision about the Internet. He decided that the Net wasn’t going to be all that important. Then he changed his decision, because the people whom he was listening to contradicted his earlier decision.

In the mid‐1980s, Ken Olsen, the cofounder of Digital Equipment Corp., decided that personal computers weren’t going to be all that important. He didn’t change his decision very quickly, and Digital suffered as a result.

These days, leaving any big decision in one person’s hands is like playing Russian roulette. It’s much safer to run multiple experiments. You never know which ideas are going to flourish and which ones are going to die.” ‐ R. Heifetz

ON HEROISM – Myth: “Leaders do their best”

“Doing your best doesn’t exist. It is a concept that is non‐existent in reality. It’s merely something we created in order to try and gauge what we think we are capable of. This creates a problem. Not only are you not doing your best, you never will do your best. Ever. Welcome to the human race.

Have you ever seen this story on the news? Some ordinary guy finds his kid trapped under a car. Maybe after an accident. And in a fit of desperation, he picks the car up himself and gets his kid out. Now, had you asked that same guy the day before to do his best to lift the car, there’s no chance he would have been able to. Yet, 24 hours later he does. What happened to his best? Sure, you can call it leverage. Or perhaps a massive increase in adrenaline. Whatever. The fact is that he tapped into something much bigger than he ever thought he was capable of. And all it took was not trying to do his best.

Perhaps the one thing that is keeping people from achieving their goals and living out all of their dreams is their attempt to do their best. We don’t really know what we are truly capable of. None of us do. Our best is really just a limitation. A glass ceiling that we have created for ourselves. It quietly sets the standard of what we believe we are capable of at our absolute best. Which we will inevitably live into. I am sure that what we perceive is our best is a mere fraction of what we are really capable of if we were willing to let go of doing … our best.” – M. Esign

Adriano understands how to increase your returns on leadership. He works with professionals in world-class organizations that include Philip Morris, Microsoft, the World Bank, Johns Hopkins University, the US Marine Corps, the State Department and NASA.  A skilled experiential educator with corporate leadership experience, he is the Founder & Principal Consultant of ParticipAction Consulting, Inc., a firm committed to help clients redefine change, collaboration and power in their organizations. He co-authored "Teachable Moments of Leadership"  with Jill Hufnagel in 2016, on a learning methodology that gets results by going from PowerPoint to …powerful!

Adriano Pianesi |