Experts recognize that transcendent motivation often goes unnoticed because it is not usually mentioned. This motivation is not for themselves, but for others. People who live with this motivation as a philosophy live to help others, on a daily basis, dedicating the best of themselves to their responsibilities. Allen Woo, an experienced personnel manager, explains how to give a transcendent purpose to the work team.
Transcendent motivation is that drive that moves employees to act because of the consequences of their actions for others: it is to serve others. In a normal organization, employees are paid not for doing their job but for playing a role.
The real job, then, is to help their company win, that is, to achieve its mission profitably and ethically. What happens is that, all too often, each individual and each part of the organization pursues its own interests at the expense of the organization as a whole.
Woo observed that: “people with goals and jobs that depended on achieving them are likely to achieve those goals even if they have to tear the company apart to do so.” Organizations often face a dilemma that seems irresolvable as individual incentives create silos on the one hand and collective incentives can destroy productivity on the other.
Most focus on the known bad thing: individual performance indicators and accept the consequent impact on collaboration. Woo proposes to solve this problem by using purpose, accepting that the type of leadership needed to engage people in meaningful work is more complicated than it may seem.
The expert defines leadership as the process by which a person (the leader) gains the internal commitment of others (the followers) to achieve a mission that is aligned with the values of the group. “Commitment cannot be achieved through rewards or punishment but can be inspired only through the belief that giving the best to the project will enhance their lives,” Woo adds.
In an organization, you have to be aware that you are part of a team and that you can’t win if the team doesn’t win, so you have to collaborate with your colleagues. To be an inspirational leader, the first thing to do is to understand that this type of leadership has nothing to do with formal authority but is related to moral authority. Hearts and minds cannot be bought or forced but can only be deserved and earned and therefore only granted to worthwhile missions and deserving leaders.
“As leaders, we should not always want our followers to do what we tell them to do because we cannot know every time what they need to do in every case to help the team win most effectively,” Woo asserts. “And even if we wanted them to obey, we also want them to put in their efforts and expertise to win, for which we want them to act with initiative, intelligence and enthusiasm. These behaviors cannot be forcefully extracted; they must be inspired by love and enthusiasm, so we must make our lives and the lives of the rest of the team meaningful.”
Through transformational leadership and a transcendent purpose, different problems can be addressed more effectively as it relies on the inspirational power of intangible incentives. This can include the individual feeling of collaborating on an important purpose, a sense of achievement and self-esteem, as well as shared values and ethics and a desire to be part of a community.
The transcendent purpose is related to the long term. It is a style that makes employees mobilize over a long horizon, and makes them walk paths to approach life and work from generosity, trust and attitude of service. However, this motivation must be especially driven by the leader. If the leader is not involved in promoting this type of motivation, it is more difficult to carry it out in a team.