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Leadership in Motivating others

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 5 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Motivate Leadership Workplace Work

One of the key skills of a good leader is the ability to motivate others to willingly perform certain actions and reach for a certain goal. Regardless of your personal leadership style, doing a few simple things will help you motivate the other members of your team more easily.

What Motivates People?

People are motivated by a complex variety of things such as their values, beliefs, interests, needs, desires, what they believe to be worthy causes and of course, fear. Some of these, such as interests, needs and beliefs, are internal – whilst others, such as peer pressure or danger from the environment, are external.

Unfortunately, there is no simple formula for human motivation – each person’s behaviour and actions are controlled by a complex array of forces and furthermore, the same forces may not steer two different people to act the same way. Therefore, it is a case of keeping an open mind and assessing each situation on its own merits.

Having said that, motivation can still usefully be defined as the combination of desire and the energy directed at achieving a certain goal. In this sense, your motivation would depend on 2 things: the strength of your need and your own perception of the actions required of satisfy your needs.

For example, you may be tired and you may also have a deadline for a certain task; if you’re exhausted and feel like collapsing, your desire to rest will be stronger and you will go to sleep. However, if you are only slightly tired, then you will work on completing the task first.

Similarly, if you perceive that you could be fired for not meeting your deadline, you may force yourself to stay up all night to complete it. On the other hand if you perceive that you will be able to complete it in the morning, in time to hand it in – you will go to sleep first.

How To Show Motivating Leadership

There are several thing you can do as a leader to help motivate your team:
  • Give recognition – appreciation from a respected leader is one of the most powerful motivators there is, so make sure you always acknowledge and celebrate contributions from each of your team members. It can be something as simple as a verbal “thank you” or as formal as a certificate – they are all powerful motivators and will not only motivate the receiving person to continue his or her efforts in the future but may also set up a bit of healthy competition with other team members who may be keen to earn similar praise and so work harder as well.
  • Involve your team in the planning and problem-solving process – by taking part in the decision-making process, people feel an ownership and a persona interest in seeing the project succeed. This is a very powerful motivator.
  • Communicate clearly – people who have a good understanding of the role they play and the contribution they are making to the team will be more motivated. They feel a genuine part of the organisation or group, as opposed to “just working for it”.
  • Try to make each person’s job challenging and meaningful – people want to feel like a important member of a team, not just another cog in a lifeless wheel. They will not mind tiring and unpleasant work, if it is meaningful and if they feel that it is important to the achievement of the ultimate goal.
Finally, don’t forget to build your team spirit so that people identify and want to feel part of your group or organisation. You want them to enjoy their time in the workplace or with team mates, not desperately try to cut it short and get it over with. Creating good morale within your team will have a positive impact on your organisation as a whole.

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