September 2017 | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Jonah Berger, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Use the power of social influence to provide encouragement for yourself and your team.
Whether you’re trying to inspire your sales team to work harder or encouraging greater innovation throughout your organization, social comparisons can be a powerful motivating force. Giving people a sense of how they stack up against their peers can encourage them to work harder and be more likely to achieve their goals. But there’s a limit to the effectiveness of comparisons: if not carefully designed, social comparisons can lead people to get discouraged, give up, and quit.
A widely used example of how not to use them is the winner-take-all model. The person who makes the most sales this quarter gets promoted, and the team that comes up with the best new product or service wins an award. While this strategy motivates people who have a chance at the top slot, it often demotivates those who feel they have no shot at winning. Someone who has only half as many sales as the leader may think they are so far back that there’s no use trying.
Instead of demotivating the majority, create environments and shape situations that allow social comparisons to motivate everyone. The Action Steps below offer four ideas for providing the right kind and amount of competition that improves performance.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.
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