Aggressive Motivation vs Subtle Empathetic Problem Solving

Deboleena was facing one of the most significant setbacks of her career. The COVID 19 pandemic had made everything Topsy turvy for her organization. Performance of all the leaders had dropped, especially for the women leaders, it was even worse. 

Being the HR Head of 2000+ employees, it was a big task to get them back on track. Had they all been working out of office, it would’ve been easy to monitor them, but now that they are working from home, it has become challenging.

What could she do so that they become more productive? Should she ask their manager to reprimand them? Would job loss scare help to pull up their socks? What about making them log in to the attendance sheet on time every day, would that help?

She was anxious about the performance of the company if this trend continued. Very quickly, she needed to come up with a plan.

Ashish noticed her drowned in deep thought and offered to help. Being the Sales Head of the organization, he knew quite a few ways to bring back the energy in the team. 

Ashish: Hey, Debo, how about getting a strong motivational speaker to come and motivate our folks?

Deboleena’s eyes lit up. That sounds like a better plan.

Deboleena: Sounds great, but would that help? Will virtual motivational talk be useful for our employees? 
Ashish: Absolutely. They have been successful before too. My sales team has had the experience of it, and they loved it. I have seen a considerable difference in the morale of my folks after the talk. 
Deboleena: Great! Let’s try this. 

Quickly, she organized a session with the same motivational speaker who had earlier addressed the sales team. 

Most of the leaders attended the virtual session. They all were excited about the talk. 

Everyone was spellbound by the speaker’s stage presence, audience management and high voltage motivational stories. 

Immediately after the talk, they were all rearing to go. As if someone had charged their batteries to a new one so that they function impeccably well. 

Deboleena took a sigh of relief! Finally, the leaders were back on track.

Her relief was short-lived. 

Everything went well for a week; leaders were charged up, they showed enthusiasm, excitement, proactiveness and performed to their best. 

From the second week onwards, the same trend was coming back. Most of the leaders became lethargic slowly; they avoided tasks that were not their primary focus. Their excitement saw a steady drop. 

Women leaders were again becoming aloof in themselves, just doing enough to stay afloat. 

Deboleena wondered what was going on. 

At that time, her inner voice appeared. 

Debo, you made sure the leaders were motivated but did you try to find out their problem? Did you try to find out what is stopping them from performing their best?

Eureka! Debo thought, I never realized this. 

Immediately she scheduled a few one-to-ones with a few leaders which included many women leaders as well.  

Listening to their challenges, Deboleena realized she was going through the same setbacks as others. Being empathetic towards their setbacks helped her to think differently. 

She decided to hire an expert who had the same experience that they needed to solve their setbacks. For the next few weeks, the leaders went through a series of focused consultations by the expert who painstakingly removed all the blockers from their way —helping them to realize the potential hidden in those challenges.  Deboleena was pleasantly surprised to see the enthusiasm, excitement, and performance persist even after a few months. 

Lesson from this: 


Only when Deboleena understood the challenges faced by the leaders, she could address them adequately. That’s why it’s essential to understand the root cause of the surface problem. 

When an organization focuses on removing the root cause, the surface problem disappears automatically. 


This is the Third story in the 100 ways to empower women leaders series. You can read the other stories here.

Do join the Setback Leaders’ Worldwide Tribe should you wish to stay in close touch with other Setback Leaders from across the world.

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