Social Motivation and Social Ability

The authors of Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change attempt to make a clear distinction between social motivation and social ability. When an influencer or leader understands the importance between both motivation and ability they will likely begin to see more positive results. One quality should not necessarily outweigh the other as both will contribute to an understanding between leader and subordinate.

The emphasis with social motivation is one’s willingness to show the extent to which he or she will go to achieve goals. A great influencer will, as the authors describe, "Not only talk the talk, but walk it as well" (Grenny p. 182). If an influencer is to lead the way, then they should be held to an even higher standard than they are holding subordinates to. For example, when our urgent care center received a new manager (normally they work the typical 9-5 while the clinical end works 8a-8p) she would stay the entire 12 hour shifts to see and understand how our clinic operated as there are some differences between the centers. She showed that she was going to work at the goals laid out by corporate, but first wanted to better understand how we operated and what parts could use some tweaking. Had she stayed the intended 9-5 shift she might have easily missed what goes on during opening and closing times. Managers in the past as a result were informed of a variety of issues that happen at those times but are unable to take action since they are not physically present, but in this case she got a better idea of what occurs and what would need corrected. She showed that she had motivation and was willing and able to work at the goals set by corporate, and as a result the staff became more dedicated to achieving those desired outcomes. The authors mention allowing others to hold everyone accountable as well. This is crucial and she was very open in that if we thought or saw something that could spell out trouble to report it to her first. Then she would call for a meeting with the individuals, or if it was a group problem she would hold a staff meeting to address the behaviors and outcomes that were more desirable. In this way, she created an understanding amongst staff and was well respected because she expected us to hold a certain standard with one another as well as connect to those that might need additional help. This ties into the next component of social ability where an individual is able to recognize that achieving goals and getting others to partake in vital behaviors is not an individual effort.

The authors state that individuals hardly ever have all that is required to complete every single task we are assigned. This then places the value on how building relationships enables us to complete tasks rather than facing them alone. By building "social capital" innovative thought processes and solutions can be combined to reach a goal or solve a problem. Additionally, by building social capital they are able to ensure that others will be willing to help new members of the team. If an influencer engages a number of people, then they will feel like they play an important role. Feeling as though you have a role makes it then easier when the influencer needs to implement a change. The change will not feel as forced or foreign if a number of team members have gotten to assist in making the change. For example, our manager at one point approached front office staff about the fluctuating medication sale numbers. As a team, we decided that it would be best to track the medications and whether or not we could even sell them at our clinic. This then had a very clear impact and showed that selling the medications were not the issue, having the medications in stock was playing a larger role. Despite having to track all the medications, which was a change from our previous standard, the assistants understood why the change had to be made since they had a role in deciding what would work best. The manager understood there was value in asking what would be preferred and allowing us to brainstorm potential solutions with her.

Great influencers are able to see the value in showing their own motivation to not only set an example but also an understanding between leader and subordinate. If the influencer holds himself to a high standard, he shows the importance of the vital behaviors or goals he is looking for. Additionally, the social ability and capital they are able to make the influencer can make changes and adjustments much faster. By having valuable input and expertise from others he or she can ensure more desired outcomes.


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