Thinking of a Wise Leader

August 28, 2003, author: Aleksandra Kubaychuk

One of the most important qualities characteristic of a true leader is the ability to find and play sensitive strings in the hearts of subordinates, thereby maintaining and improving their working enthusiasm. The system of management, influence and encouragement proposed by Frank Pucelik is based on the theory of McClelland and enriched with Frank’s own experience. In addition it was approbated on practice in the U.S., Russian and Ukrainian companies. The system is based on classification of three types of people. «The behavior motives of employees are three foreign languages. Each top-manager should master all these languages. The task of the leader is to identify the motivations of employees and learn to talk one language with them - said Mr. Pucelik. - Building a system of incentives, correspondent to internal desires and values of employees is easy when knowing that all people to a certain degree are inherent to one of the three motivations - power, achievement or affiliation. We should not think that everything depends on money. Within the right approach intangible incentives are often much more effective than the obvious material benefit».

Who is who

You can learn to recognize motivation both by visual signs and by behavioral standards. The representatives of motives of «power», «achievement» and «affiliation» behave differently, look differently, and their life goals are radically different.

There is a spectacular example of different motivations. Suppose you took your team out of the city and gave them some free time. And they have divided, say, into three groups - the first group was frying barbecue and talking about children and two others were playing football. And the first group watched the match. When the employees returned to the camp, they all asked the same question: «What was the score of the game?» The first to come were satisfied winners (the motive «power»), they said - «We had the situation under control from the very beginning and won. We simply killed them». After them«achievers» came quietly. To the same question they answered - «The game ended with the score 3:2 in favor of our contestants. But the next time we will try to play better». They explained in detail why they have not been able to win this time and what needs to be done to ensure that the next time they win. People of «affiliation» returned the last. They carried everything that was left at the playground, but did not look offended at all. On the contrary, they smiled and vying with each other talked about how they liked the game and how they are happy to work in such a good and friendly company where leaders care about employees and organize trips like this. However, they did not remember the score of the match. So, what are the key differences between people of each group?


Motive “power” is expressed in the desire to influence other people. People with a strong power motivation, as a rule, are not afraid of confrontation; they are energetic, seeking to defend their position. They are able to achieve their goals, relying on other people, so in most organizations people with a clear motive of power occupy leadership positions. These people do administrative work well; they have the ability to delegate authority. Besides that, power people often volunteer, especially in situations when they can demonstrate being stronger and more experienced (for example, they work well with newcomers). Power people are trying to influence others not in order to reach agreement, but to win. They often provide assistance, give advices, even without request from another person. But they «keep score» - remember whom they helped and who owns what. All the time they try to impress other people or the world on the whole and are concerned about their reputation and status.

Such people often use words, which mean active force and the desire to dominate (challenge, influence, control, prestige) and try to draw attention and create emotional response (positive or negative). In doing so, they try to talk so that to draw attention of an increasing number of people, even if initially they talked with one person.

Power people try to look and dress presentable - their clothing always includes some bright colors combined with black. In the office of a power person, there are always symbols of prestige – diplomas from elite educational institutions, expensive souvenirs, photos, which depict the owner of the office with different celebrities, etc. These people prefer reading autobiographies of people of power, watch action movies, choose team-sports, where you can rule others (football), or duels one on one, where you can suppress an opponent (boxing, tennis).


People belonging to this group always show interest in developing personal networking, creating friendly relations, never deny assistance to one another. Such people work well in teams. For them emotional atmosphere in the team and personal interest of leaders is important. They are initially loyal to the company and like to emphasize their affiliation to something «great». (For example, they happily use corporate logo.) Such people radically dislike leadership positions. Almost always they have a need for security, so take criticism as disapproval of their own personality and prefer working with friends than with experts. These employees should be involved in work, which gives them opportunity for a wide communication (by the way, the lack of these possibilities significantly reduces the effectiveness of their work). But these people know how to have fun, and they are always surrounded by a large number of friends. Therefore, external relations and inner atmosphere in the team is better be entrusted to them. “Affiliators” write many letters and call on the phone often. Soft, trusting and emotional intonations dominate in their. In addition to verbal contact, they seek to establish nonverbal contact too – they love handshakes, during the conversation they come close to the people they are talking to. They wear clothes of natural or soft colors (ocher, gray, brown). They like «soap operas», love and adventure novels. Among sports “affiliators” choose tourism and trips, sitting round fire and singing songs with a guitar.


The saying by David Ogilvy «The best way to make an employee the generator of ideas is to give him the highest responsibility» fully relates to people aimed at achieving success. The need for success is satisfied not only through recognition of achievements of an employee, but the very fact of concluding the work successfully. People looking for success risk reasonably but they like situations in which they can bear personal responsibility for solving problems. The suppression of such endeavors will inevitably lead to conflict between the individual and organization. Employees whose main motivation is achievement are real pioneers and researchers. So they are happy to realize the most difficult and complex projects. «Achievers» (unlike “affiliators” and “power” people) often ask for a critical assessment of their results, therefore, they prefer to work with experts instead of friends. In their grain, they are loners and do not need permanent guardianship because they perfectly plan their work.

Such people keep distance, stay cold and do not express their emotions. Instead of saying - «I think», «I believe», they say «on the information», «according to statistics», etc. They sometimes wear old clothes. They do not hurry to get rid of it – the most important is that clothes were comfortable and functional. Achievers are interested in scientific, technological and specialized literature, which provides step-by-step instructions, answers the question «How can I do it?» Of all the sports they prefer those in which you can continuously improve your results - sports against standards, aimed at setting records (higher, further, faster).

There is different «currency» for everyone

It is clear that each of these groups has its own «means of payment» (incentives) motivating people. Such basic need as an opportunity to make decisions and take care of the weak and newcomers is important for people with power motive. Unique tasks challenging professional pride, opportunity to study is the «currency» of achievers. While for «affiliators» corporate events, personal involvement of leaders and emotional climate in the team are important. How it works?

For example, the founder of a successful company in order to reduce the gap between top-management and staff of the company, in the morning visits cabinets of those, for whom affiliation is important and personally greets everyone. Feeling attention and participation of the boss, employees feel more secure. While flexible working hours and the ability to work alone is what «achievers» expect. (It is important to avoid confusion here, because for the representatives of motives of power and affiliation that works the opposite way. Indeed, the first ones lack subordinates, and the second - the team.) For people with power motivation it is important to be the masters of the situation even if they are subordinate to someone. Therefore, they can organize «influence island» to patronize newcomers.

However, ability to properly select incentives is not enough. It is equally important to learn to speak the same language to everyone in the company, skillfully changing the language, depending on what type of person you are talking with at the moment. «Successful managers are mostly great chameleons. Motivating employees, they try to speak their language - said Frank Pucelik. - And in order that the information and directions that you want to convey to subordinates were effective, you should become same with them. This allows you achieve maximum influence without causing rejection of information, because representatives of different motivations communicate and perceive their fellows better». So, you need be able to quickly and accurately adjust. For this aim, you should explore signs of each of the three groups and try to use basic verbal and nonverbal characters of each. The main methods of adjusting are - copying poses, breathing rhythms, gestures and paraphrase. Frank Pucelik said - «When copying postures and gestures you need to ensure that it does not become an imitation. That means copying poses and gestures should only be schematic. Paraphrase is a repetition of certain phrases, used by the interlocutor. Naturally, the measure must be respected here too. The rhythm of breathing itself is difficult to copy. But if you adjusted successfully, the rhythm of breath will soon be the same as that of your conversation partner». How do you know that you have adjusted successfully? Try to change the posture a bit and see what your companion will do. If he changes his posture too, you have the proof that the contact is established and the person is interested in conversation. Incidentally, this skill is easy to develop - you only need to practice. For example, join the carefree chatter of «affiliators», argue with «achievers» or capture the attention of «power» people. This is not just easy - it is a kind of exciting game.

Common rules

But sometimes identifying the motivation of a subordinate is very difficult. In this case, Frank Pucelik suggests using common rules that help to adjust employees positively, regardless of their motivation.

One of these rules encourages the use of mostly positive incentives, while leaving penalties and criticism for crisis times. The balance of positive motivation is a fragile thing, and in order not to destroy it, we must remember that nine positive contacts with a subordinate can be followed by only one negative interaction. It should also be remembered that criticism is useful only for pronounced «achievers», all others take it personally or do not know how to constructively take advantage of it. Therefore, criticizing should be as follows:

personal (individually, one by one);

calm (quite voice, without provoking);


directed on behavior (without assessing the personality of the employee);

with recommendations (advice on the best way to proceed in this case).

In addition, there are five universal rules of setting goals for people with different types of motivation. For example, if you want to get 100% fulfillment of your task, the task should be:

achievable (the subordinate should have knowledge, skills and qualification necessary to implement it);

limited in time (time for the task should not be longer than the time during which the employee can perform it with desire);

specific (i.e. clearly framed so that the employee could understand what is required);

focused on success (the subordinate must have a real visible opportunity «to celebrate the success» of each phase and the task in general) and carry a low risk (the task should not cause risk for the subordinate).

And it is also very important to preserve the balance between employees with different motivations when building a company. Victoria Solovey, Director General of Training Agency «Bon-project», partner of Frank Pucelik in Ukraine, states that the spirit of competition and the desire to be the best is more prevalent in Western companies. And the feature of our society is increased percentage of people with strong «power» and «affiliation» motivations. There are genetically not many «achievers» in the Ukraine. This fact must be considered when hiring new staff, for «achievers» are the ones who ensure the result planned in practice (not in words and dreams). They increase the productivity of the company step by step, because a more lofty goal is their main motivation. At the same time, finding common language with «achievers» is most difficult. And we often lose this rare type of staff just because we can not (or do not want to?) learn to communicate with them in language understandable for them. And in the end we lose a lot!»

Be a self-made person

And finally, the last important point is self-improvement. The best leader must constantly develop the features that will enable him to be the best at his position. For example, during implementation of innovative and unique projects (or high-risk tasks) the skills of «achievers» would be helpful. When appointed to senior positions the motive of power needs to be developed. The experience of successful people - the brightest representatives of the motive – might be of help here. In order for this motive to act efficiently, you should use all features adherent to this motive. For example, for successful realization of the project, which demands power motivation, you need to involve as many thought processes, characteristic of this motivation, as possible.

Another way to develop one or another motivation is called adjusting. It means you have to try to live as brightest representatives of the three motivations live and try to spend more time in their society. Thus, you can replicate the style of thinking and understand the logic of actions of these people.