Engaging Leader™

014: 5 Ways to De-Motivate People (Are You Making Any of These Common Mistakes?)

Are You Making These Common Mistakes?

Jesse and Marty discuss five common mistakes leaders make that steal most people’s intrinsic motivation to be fully engaged in their work. These are not simply based on opinion; the five points are based on decades of empirical research with hundreds of thousands of people by Burnham Rosen Group:

1. Make all decisions yourself  (To motivate people, flip it: Keep authority at the appropriate level.)
2. Insist that everything is black and white (Flip it: Be flexible, and acknowledge when you or others have conflicting feelings about something.)
3. Find someone to blame for every mistake Even better, second-guess every decision and work product — in other words, consider everything they do is a mistake. (Flip it: Accept that not all mistakes will negatively affect the outcome; and treat mistakes as learning opportunities.)
4. Think “I” rather than “we” (Flip it: Think mutual respect and involvement … “we”.)
5. Keep people putting out fires (Flip it: Plan for longer-term outcomes the team will be proud of. Instead of being a firefighter or firestarter, be a cultivator.)


For a more information on the Burnham Rosen Group and the workshops they offer go to or contact [email protected].

DriveThe Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

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4 replies on “014: 5 Ways to De-Motivate People (Are You Making Any of These Common Mistakes?)”

“I” versus “we” is something I notices when leaders talk about the company they lead. When someone with a large company or a Dave Ramsey then a “we” is assumed as it is well know it is not just them. What really catches my ear when someone who could easily appear as an “I” such as an Andy Andrews or other author uses “we” because it does take many to keep them on schedule and the website going and other things.
Fun seeing you and your pops doing this together. It shows a lot about raising leaders.
Thank you guys.

K, bye

Yes, for a long time I was surprised every time I heard Dave Ramsey say “we” because it seems like it should be all about him. But though it began with his leadership personality, you are right that there are a lot of people that make it happen.

Nice dynamic between the two of you on this show – I really enjoyed listening. Also enjoyed the “I” vs. “we” conversation that was pointed out by Christopher.

One additional think that might be helpful is a distinction around the “autonomy” language that Daniel Pink uses in his book. While all of us know what Pink means by this, I’ve had at least one client push back on this wording since they were afraid that people in their organization would simply do whatever they wanted. With that client, I stated using the term “appropriate autonomy” and also took time to make the distinction between autonomy (which is appropriate) and independence (which is too far). That helped them…feel free to use that language too if it’s helpful.

Keep up the great work!

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