Book Review: The Motive

Why does anyone choose to take a leadership position? Is it because it’s the next step on the organizational ladder? Is it for the money? Maybe, it’s the opportunity to serve. This is the question best-selling author Patrick Lencioni addresses in his most recent book, The Motive.

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite authors. Several of my favorite Lencioni books include The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Ideal Team Player, and  The Advantage. Most of his books are written as business fables with solid leadership prescriptions embedded into the story

In The Motive, Lencioni suggests there are two primary reasons for one to assume a leadership position. The first motive is “to serve others, to do whatever is necessary to bring about something good for the people they lead.” We can all think of leaders we have been exposed to that chose leadership for this reason. The list includes presidents, business leaders, teachers, and little league coaches.

The second reason people choose to lead is “that they want to be rewarded”. They see leadership as an opportunity to be rewarded for years of hard work and dedication. While I think most people see intuitively why this is a bad reason to lead, it is still very common in government, in business, and in our personal lives.

Lencioni points out that if leaders are motivated by personal rewards, they will avoid unpleasant situations and difficult decisions that leadership requires. Unfortunately, we are seeing no shortage of those examples of leadership in the current health and economic crisis we find ourselves in.

What is your reason for leading? Is it to further the good in our world or your company or is it to be rewarded for your past efforts? I think this is a very important question for each of us in a leadership role to ask at this moment in time.