In this episode of Engaging Internal Comms, The Big Picture People’s Craig Smith talks to David Naylor.
David is Executive Vice President at 2Logical, a leading global consultancy helping organisations navigate through various challenges and transitions, most recently being the pandemic. Clients include organisations such as General Motors, Bank of America, American Express, L’Oréal, Tate & Lyle, and many more.
David is based in New York, where 2Logical has its headquarters. The company also has offices in the Middle East and Australia, and operates across 90 countries and six different continents.
David is also an author and Forbes contributor, as well as a LinkedIn advisor, and his team run The Motivational Intelligence podcast, which you can find in the link at the end of these show notes.
What is motivational intelligence?
The original concept of intelligence was quantified in the form of an IQ back in the 1600s. This is still used to measure mental ability. Additionally to IQ, David explains how emotional intelligence (EQ) is essentially the human being’s understanding of emotions and how these emotions influence behaviour.
Further to this, David explains how psychological researcher Dr Carol Dweck discovered a third type of intelligence, motivational intelligence, which consists of two types of mindset:
1. Fixed mindset
Those with a fixed mindset have a more limited belief system about themselves and their capabilities, and even their perspective on the world. They believe their qualities are unchangeable and fixed traits, and do not strive to develop or improve them. They believe that success requires talent alone, and not effort.
2. Growth mindset
Those with a growth mindset believe that learning, effort, and persistence improves their abilities and intelligence. They strive for improvement in themselves and have broader capabilities, and embrace change and development.
“Motivational intelligence is the driver on whether an individual is operating under a fixed mindset, or growth mindset,” David concludes. “It is an individual’s awareness and their ability to manage negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs.”
Thus, how an individual behaves can have damaging ripple effects within an organisation, with their mindset most often the root cause of issues within a business.
Identifying motivational intelligence in the workplace
It is crucial for an organisation to identify motivational problems within its people, as negative effects can hinder the performance and progression of an individual, a team, and the business itself.
David notes five important characteristics that will highlight the mindset types of an organisations’ employees. An employee’s reactive behaviours depend on whether they have a fixed mindset or growth mindset. These characteristics are:
- Accountability – a fixed mindset will play the victim, while a growth mindset will take ownership of accomplishments, failures and solutions
- Adaptability – a fixed mindset is risk-averse and contests feedback, while a growth mindset is open-minded and seeks feedback
- Resilience – those with high motivational intelligence bounce back from setbacks more easily
- Initiative – the ability to problem solve and lead is more apparent in people with high motivational intelligence
- Courage – motivational intelligence drives people to act without fear and self-doubt
Being aware of these five characteristics will help identify those who, most importantly, are struggling with motivational intelligence, so that action and support can be provided accordingly.
Developing motivational intelligence in those who need it most
Once individuals have been identified to have low motivational intelligence, an organisation must act to ensure both the individual and the organisation can grow and succeed positively moving forward. This does not mean that a message or feedback must be forced upon an individual.
“If an individual is struggling with their motivational intelligence, really what they’re struggling with is a flawed belief set,” says David. “You can’t fix somebody’s belief set by telling them that it’s broken or wrong.”
David brings our attention to Dr Leon Festinger’s discovery of the principle of cognitive dissonance. Dissonance can be defined as a lack of agreement in one’s belief. Festinger’s work showed how people change their beliefs in their actions to reduce the dissonance caused by the action.
For example, an employee does something at work that goes against what they believe in, so they reason with themselves to justify what they did, effectively changing their beliefs to reduce the feeling of dissonance.
Therefore, an organisation must challenge an individual’s limited belief set in a way where they let go of their limited beliefs and accept the organisation’s optimal belief.
“We undermine the validity of the limited belief, and we build up the validity of the optimal belief,” explains David. “You move them from having a fixed mindset to having a growth mindset.”
This shift in an individual’s mindset in motivational intelligence can have incredible effects on their professional and personal life.
Tackling cognitive dissonance as an organisation
To approach cognitive dissonance within an organisation as an entirety as opposed to individually, companies should ensure that their culture is reflective of the growth mindset in motivational intelligence, promoting and thriving from accountability, adaptability, resilience, initiative, and courage.
“Culture, from a corporate standpoint, is the collective set of dominant beliefs of a group of people,” says David. “And so from an organisational perspective, the broadest lever we have of organisational performance is the culture that we, as leaders, are perpetuating. If we’re really looking at driving performance, you know we have to pay attention to that culture.”
Empathy in handling flawed belief sets
It is very important that organisations and management understand that they must not simply enforce their beliefs onto an individual, and instruct for them to disregard their own. Instead they must outweigh the employees’ limited and fixed beliefs that are preventing them from developing professionally and personally, with a reasoning to pull on the side of the optimal belief of the organisation’s growth mindset.
“Understand that not everybody has had the same set of influences that shaped them the way that they were shaped,” says David. “Part of our responsibility as leaders in organisations is to give people those developmental experiences, so that they learn to be more accountable, and more adaptable and more resilient.”
While empathy must be accommodated to understand employees’ mindsets, for them to be able to develop as well as be a part of an organisation’s surge towards success, their restrictive thoughts and beliefs must be challenged.
“People who rise up through organisations into senior leadership roles – there’s a cause and effect of why they sit in the seat they do,” says David.
Holding those five characteristics of high motivational intelligence propels individuals and companies towards success and growth. Putting empathy to one side, David explains that “You’ve got to change those dominant thoughts and beliefs. There’s no other way to do it.”
Organisations must tackle the damaging dominant beliefs by gearing communication, conversation, influencing, and training at that thought and belief level that makes a revolutionary difference.
The foundations of a highly motivationally intelligent organisation
To ensure motivational intelligence is high within an organisation, management and internal comms must be looking at what they are doing to change those flawed belief sets within those who hold fixed mindsets. This can often be managed in conversation, within ‘leadership moments’, which are so fruitful in opportunities to influence the mindsets of those who are struggling with motivational intelligence.
Additionally, organisations must create a clear and set strategy on the message they want their people to hear and understand, and how it is being supported, allowing and empowering leaders to start the conversations and influence a growth mindset.
All organisations and employees have the same goal: to progress and succeed. But that all important mindset – something that can be shaped from the very beginning of our lives or the start of a new business – can bring the pendulum to an abrupt halt.
Challenge the forces of a fixed belief with an optimal belief, and an individual can move from problem-focused to solution-oriented. Boosting the five characteristics of a highly motivationally intelligent individual, within a strong and positive culture of their organisation, will propel that employee to real capability to achieve at a senior level.
David’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-naylor-2logical/