Peer Recognition Is More Motivating Than Money

Adam Smith, the author of Wealth of Nations, proposed this as the basis of why people seek money and wealth to begin with; because it kindles the respect of one’s peers. Which actions and qualities gain respect differ greatly depending on the type of context we are operating in.

  • In feudal communities, honor was valued far above wealth or money.
  • Among circles of scientists, successful theories or logical rigor are prized far above money and wealth.
  • In Confucian societies, fidelity to one’s family was valued far above money and wealth.
  • In religious monasteries, religious devotion is valued far above wealth.

Today, the central organizing principle of our community are relationships. Generating money is an outcome of our market-based capitalism and an incentive by itself.

What Drives People To Extraordinary Performance

In Dan Pink’s book Drive, he presents detailed analysis on motivation. For example, in jobs that require thought and after you have reached a certain base level of financial compensation, there are three things that motivate people. Mr. Pink always presents these 3 concepts in order and it is important to his analysis of motivation. 1.Autonomy 2.Mastery and 3. Purpose. The categories are right, but his order is incorrect.

The correct order is; 1.Purpose 2.Mastery 3.Autonomy. When we work with the star performers and when you go to actually motivate other people to be like the stars, what we find out is they are incredibly purpose-driven. They are about an authentic commitment to creating what we call “a greater social good”. Social good is a broad descriptor. Social good could be for your family. It could be for your own peers in your operating group. It is something bigger than yourself. In commercial enterprises, it is almost always about for the customer. In information technology groups and when we work with IT leadership, it was about really helping the business be successful; a social good for the business. And by the way, information technology engineers being purpose-driven around social good for the business was a weird concept.

For example, you are in the midst of an SAP implementation and you talking about the greater social good of SAP for the business and the star performers say, yes, that is the right discussion to have. Everyone else asks, “What are you talking about?” In The Star Factor, Dr. Bill Seidman talks extensively about the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership and how transformational leadership is all purpose-driven. So the star performers are incredibly purpose-driven.

From Money to Social Capital

Dr. Robert D. Putnam of Harvard University explains the central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other “norms of reciprocity”. Relationship Capital or RC is the quality of a relationship.

In Dr. Putnam’s book: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), he describes the reduction in all forms of in-person intercourse upon which the American Citizen built relationships and was educated. He sights the decline in association memberships as a prime example. Dr. Putnam accepts the possibility that with regards to ever-lower political engagement by U.S. voters could be attributed to lack of trust. Dr. Putnam believes this decline undermines the active civil engagement that is needed for a strong democracy.

As hindsight is 20/20, it is empirically obvious that a shift has occurred away from the in-person social networking associations and to the internet-based communities. The combination of Internet broadband capacity, adoption of social media platforms, and smart mobile devices has led to the hyper-connected individual. These digital tools are having a profound effect on how individual’s connect, collaborate, and engender trust.

Digital technology is transforming the process by which we earn trust in the competitive marketplace. Individuals, businesses, or product/service seek to stand out from the competition to win & retain business. Traditional marketing campaigns that promote one-way messages are being ignored or are not trusted. Customers and Clients seek a dialogue or two-way interaction. Also, since your own employees and other stakeholders are also building relationships online, you need to connect and managed the quality of these interactions as well.

The Benefits of Relationship Capital (RC) Measurement

Relationship Capital (RC) as an open standard will be an important metric in distinguishing one person from another and one organization from another. Quantifying the quality of one’s trustworthiness or credibility amongst your peers and with your stakeholders in this hyper-connected and transparent world is to be expected. How you behave is as important to your business success as what products you create or services you deliver. By accounting for these commitments and perceptions you gain the following benefits:

  • RC is a social & peer-to-peer reward for your stakeholders (i.e. employees, partners, suppliers and customers/clients) that motivates new levels of performance.
  • RC quantifies the “Golden Rule”.
  • Provides real-time appraisal.
  • Relationship Capital (RC) demonstrates the quality of one’s credibility.
  • Creates a point in time view of an entity’s (person, company, AND business group’s RC)
  • Contributes to the creation of a real-time, dynamic, common global vocabulary to be user by all members of the community.
  • Creates a social community of companies and individuals dedicated to the promotion and adoption Relationship Capital (RC) in their business interactions.

By leveraging community standards for assessing, capturing, measuring, and utilizing Relationship Capital (RC), we will provide business leaders, solopreneurs, and small business owners more understanding of how to lever this intangible asset to meet and exceed expectations with all their stakeholders and that is good for business and for the overall community.


To believe that monetary incentives are the primary incentive is missing the forest for the trees, in my opinion. Some people might contend that money is the ultimate inducement because it is an empowering asset. However, a person with vast amounts of relationship capital and recognition has little need for money.

For those you who are entrepreneurs or professionals in a business, as Dan Pink, from his book “To Sell is Human”, we all need to “move” people to get them to assist us in accomplishing our work and objectives. Trust and Relationship Capital are at the core of making this happen.

Coming This Summer! PE.ER Performing Excellence.Engaging Competence


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