Is Right Brain Leadership Good for Motivation?

“How can I motivate my people?”

I get asked that question a lot in my consulting business. And often times I fear the implication is, “How can I manipulate my people?” When people ask about motivation I often have the sense they are secretly talking about manipulation — getting their employees to do what they want, perhaps even against their will.

Lately I’ve been intrigued by research into the two halves of the human brain and how each side impacts leadership and motivation. Science tells us that the left brain is the center of more analytical and logical thought. When we think about treating our employees like expendable pieces on a right brain leadershipchessboard, we are using left brain thinking. Logical thinking certainly has its place in business. But when we’re dealing with people, we need to connect on a foundational level, not on a manipulative one. Recent understanding of right brain functions is helping leaders understand how to better connect with people. And this ultimately provides leaders with the means to help motivate their people, not a means to manipulate them, but to inspire them, to align with them, to see a common purpose, to want the same things.

When we think about motivation, I hope we can think more about aligning our intentions with the intentions of others. Manipulation may work for a season, but it is not a long-term leader’s solution. If we are having problems with motivating our people, perhaps we need to review our overall objectives. If we view people as expendable pieces in a game, we will treat them that way. But if we view them as real individuals, with their own hopes, dreams, aspirations and worth, we must make sure that our “motivational techniques” reflect our true view of our people.

If you’re having trouble motivating your people, take a look at your own motivations.  And check the right side of your brain.

If you too are intrigued by left vs. right brain leadership and human motivation, feel free to join me when I interview Paul Herr, author of “Primal Management:  Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance” on Thursday, January 30, at 11:30 AM Eastern/8:30 AM Pacific. You can register here to join the conversation.

Left Brain vs. Right Brain Leadership — What’s Your View?

Agree? Disagree? Left brain or right brain leadership — is there only one right way to motivate an employee? Do leaders have to strike a balance somewhere in between? Please comment.


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