July 15, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 28

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

Leadership and Advice

First, I begin with the debunking of the great 1953 Yale Goals Study, which doesn't exist, but none-the-less is proffered on unsuspecting people who believe what people tell them, people they respect, who have been successful, but like others before them, propagate the myths of advice-giving.

Most recently I ran across the quote in DASH, P. 45, by Eric Aronson, which inspired me to dig out this partially started microcast and finish it now.

Here is the link that debunks the myth of the Yale Goal Setting Study.


A few years ago I was involved with an advanced emotional intelligence workshop led by Richard Boyatzis at Case Western University. At the time, he indicated that their research had shown that only about a third of the population is motivated by goals. This is consistent with David McClelland's supposition around achievement as a motive: 'ach', which he wrote about in The Achieving Society in 1961 and later in Human Motivation.

In my view, we have this consistently conditioned idea in leadership that what motivates us motivates everyone else, so we advise people. To some extent, that may be somewhat true, at times. However as a general rule, there isn't one. What this means to me is that motivational dynamics becomes efficient when people are profiled motivationally.

Motivational data can be used to identify motivational pathways. These pathways can support the systems the person then chooses to employ in meeting the expectations they have of themselves and that others have of them. This can be clarified through a process of engagement using dynamic inquiry.

Don't let people talk you into goals and goal directed tactics because that is what motivates them. The projection of this advice onto people by coaches, consultants, and motivational speakers is not effective much of the time, nor actionable. This is the reason why motivational speeches don't stick or continue to motivate people over time--they are not actionable.

Chris Argyris, who I refer to continuously, wrote about how most consultants, including a couple he profiled in the book I cited below: Steven Covey and John Kotter, two of the most highly respected consultants in the world, who as he pointed out provide non-actionable advice.

I have to say in Covey's new book The Eighth Habit--while an incredible piece of work--falls again in the trap of projecting his own structure of reality onto the reader as the thing to do based on his own system of advice, as well-rounded as it may be; it's not going to be actionable for most people.

More likely than not, if we do provide advice, it is usually not actionable.

Actionable Advice (and actionable goals perhaps) has these characteristics (paraphrased from Flawed Advice and the Management Trap, C. Argyris, 2000)

-Specifies the sequence of behavior required to produce outcomes
-Makes causality transparent (what causes us to get certain effects)
-Causality embedded in advice in use is testable in normal situations
-Specifies the values or governing variables that underlie the advice

If you're interested in identifying your own motivational profile to see what advice will be actionable for you, visit http://www.reissdesireprofile.com and purchase your own survey.

 Copyright 2005. Leadership University, All Rights
Reserved.  This information may not be distributed,
stored, reproduced, copied or referenced without
specific written permission of Leadership University.


Leadership University makes no claims to the efficacy
of this product, assumes no responsibility for its use
and reserves the right to change, modify, adapt or
remove anything from the program for future sales.


Leadership University
1132 13th Avenue
Mitchell, NE  69357

Join our mailing list here.