Recently I was recommended to read the famous / infamous book of Nicolo Machiavelli: The Prince. He is definitely not a person I would learn ethics from (in the end, he is quite Machiavellian, isn’t he :)). However, throughout reading the book, I’ve found a couple of chapters that contain interesting advice on how to motivate people.
#1: Set inspiring goals (Chapter XXI)
“Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example. We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragon, the present King of Spain. He can almost be called a new prince, because he has risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to be the foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his deeds you will find them all great and some of them extraordinary. (…) and thus his achievements and designs have always been great, and have kept the minds of his people in suspense and admiration and occupied with the issue of them. And his actions have arisen in such a way, one out of the other, that men have never been given time to work steadily against him.”
#2: Take on big challenges (Chapter XX)
“Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted, and therefore fortune, especially when she desires to make a new prince great, who has a greater necessity to earn renown than an hereditary one, causes enemies to arise and form designs against him, in order that he may have the opportunity of overcoming them, and by them to mount higher, as by a ladder which his enemies have raised. For this reason many consider that a wise prince, when he has the opportunity, ought with craft to foster some animosity against himself, so that, having crushed it, his renown may rise higher.”
Maybe a little bit too distant analogy to building motivated teams in the 21st century, but still, I found it inspiring.
Here you can read the book online or download it as a free e-book: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1232