Attitudes are contagious

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” asked Steve Waugh, the steely Australian cricket captain. Your attitude has the capacity to fuel, or drain, the motivation of those around you, so choosing them carefully is a wise move.

Whether you’ve the word leader in your title or not, this guide will help you know how to constantly be in with the best chance of supporting the motivation of all those around you!

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

To state the obvious, we’ve seen that most people work with other people and that people are affected by one another! Your mindset, mood and behaviour can easily affect the motivation of someone else . Sometimes helpfully and sometimes not!

In high performance environments we see people making ongoing efforts to keep their own motivation in great shape and therefore helping the motivation of everyone around them. And this doesn’t just mean being relentlessly positive. It means by doing and saying things to help others stay focused on the ingredients that build motivation.

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. Someone else’s motivation is primarily their responsibility. But if you work with others you can impact their motivation – and vice-versa. Understanding that you can support the creation of a motivational climate is important and when you know this you can start paying attention to the right things…
  2. If you’re a leader or manager your responsibility for understanding how motivation works is even greater. Your potential influence on the thoughts, feelings and therefore motivation of others gets magnified when you’re a leader. So your thoughts, feelings, words and actions are really important to see through the lens of motivation.
  3. Effective leaders are always looking at how they can support great quality motivation by helping people stay focused on controlling the controllables, building their confidence that they’ve got what it takes to deliver, and knowing the shared purpose that everyone is connected to and striving to deliver. A healthy obsession with the basics of motivation.
  4. People’s motivation levels are usually at their highest when they start a new job. The speed with which the motivation quality drops is a clear sign of how well everyone in your organisation understands and seeks to take care of the key ingredients of motivation. High performance environments strive to build on this initial motivation, and not simply stop it’s decline.
  5. Because leadership is about behaviours not simply a title everyone has the opportunity and responsibility to be a leader of motivation. When everyone thinks of themselves as a leader of motivation, then you’ll be ready to break through to a new level of performance.

Three things to do

  1. Start to be aware of your own attitude and behaviour and begin to see yourself as a leader of motivation. Keep asking yourself, “what impact are my words and actions having on my own motivation and the motivation of the people around me?”.
  2. Start talking to other people about the impact you have on their motivation. Ask them if there’s anything specific that you can do which will help them stay focused on their sense of control, their level of confidence and their quality of connectedness to the team. Also, let other people know how they can help you with any of the 3C’s. Check in regularly with how well you’re helping each other’s quality of motivation so you keep the responsibility for motivation a key topic of performing together.
  3. Bring in a motivation check-in into your team meetings. Get everyone used to sharing their levels of Control, Confidence and Connectedness and how they’d like to be supported to keep one or more of them in the best shape possible. Regularly doing this really changes everyone’s mindset about motivation.


John and Naz’s (and others) story

John is competent in his job but has a degree in cynicism and has worked in the same place for a long time. When he got his job as a young man he had hopes for the future but corporate life has worn him down. He liked life when it was easy and nothing changed but he thinks that whilst progress was fine once it has gone on for far too long. He spends his time talking about his leaders as “they” and as if he has no choice but to work here until he dies or retires – whichever is sooner – and that’s despite how bad he clearly thinks it is.

Naz is a bright, outgoing, enthusiastic new young manager in John’s business working with John on a project. She is finding John’s “wise and experienced” attitude a bit wearing and her motivation is declining when she comes into contact with him.

Helen is in HR and she can see that her business is looking to grow and move on and that there are some people in their business who are good for this journey and some who will probably not make it.

John hates the word journey.

Tom is John’s boss and has a good working relationship with John. Tom has learned to put up with John’s open cynicism because he finds confrontation uncomfortable. Tom also read recently that the culture of an organisation is determined by the worst behaviour that its leaders are willing to tolerate .

John’s story is unfinished but there are three possible endings:

  1. Things carry on as they are in John’s business with it and him increasingly unhappy and the multiple affect on people like Naz means John’s attitude pollutes all those who come into contact with him or…
  2. Helen and Tom combine forces to plan how they can get rid of John or…
  3. John changes or decides his is no longer the place for him.

If you were John, Naz, Helen or Tom what would you do?