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By Keith Barnwell



“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Motivation is a very complex subject and it is also one of the most important tasks that you, as a leader, will have. People are motivated in many differing ways, and not only by money!  In fact as Frederick Herzberg identified in his book ‘The Motivation to Work’, written based on the results of studies he conducted in 1959, financial reward does not even feature as one of the five motivational factors, which are, in the order identified in the book:

      • Achievement
      • Recognition
      • Work content
      • Responsibility
      • Advancement

Your job as a leader is to understand what it is that motivates your people and then provide it. Some simple and effective tips to keep your people motivated are:

Motivate yourself ~ The more positive and motivated you are, the more likely it is that your team will be. They will follow your example, so take time to understand yourself, what it is that motivates you, what your values are, where your drive comes from, what kind of leader you are and what your behaviours look like to others. As a leader and manager it is vitally important that you take time for your own learning/development and to learn new skills. Reflect on what you need to do differently and how you are going to do it.

Get to know your people ~ Take the time to really understand what motivates and interests them. What are their strengths, their weaknesses and their ambitions? What concerns do they have? If people feel that their leader is really interested in them they will return that interest through the quality of the work that they are doing.

Say thank you ~ When your team members do good work, put the extra hours in, come up with a brilliant idea


or help a colleague, make sure that you give them a ‘thank you’, and mean it! Positive feedback will encourage them to do more of the same in the future, but make it specific and genuine. The best teams are said to have a 5:1 ratio in favour of positive over negative feedback.

Create a creative environment ~ It may surprise you to hear but you are not the only one capable of having good ideas. Allow your team members to express their ideas and be sure to listen and explore them – they could come up with the next best thing for your business.

Involve them ~ People need to know what their hard work and often long hours are for.   Hold workshop sessions to get them involved in your vision and goals, using a variety of tools, such as De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, PEST or SWOT analysis to stimulate creativity.

Empower your people ~ Your role as a leader is to get things done through your people and you can do this more effectively by empowering them. Where appropriate involve them in the decision making process, communicate key company information with them and ask for feedback. Delegate some of your responsibilities that they will find stimulating and motivating. And don’t micromanage them, when you give someone responsibility, mean it.

Be consistent ~ Ensure that you are consistent with your leadership style. If you are empowering, motivating one day but secretive, moody the next, your team will get confused and you will lose their trust. Every second you are with your team you are having an impact on them; make sure it is a positive one.

Provide development opportunities ~ One of your most important responsibilities as a leader is to develop future leaders. Take every opportunity to coach those who will respond well to being coached and encourage them to take on greater responsibilities.

Reward your people ~ You may not have the budget for staff bonuses or large Christmas parties, but you can still do small things to reward your people, for example when they meet targets or demonstrate excellent customer service. And be creative, look for new and fun ways of letting them know that you value their efforts

Have a social get-together ~ The occasional social get together is a great way to boost morale and enable your team to get to know one another better, and for them to get to know you!

Celebrate success ~ It is important to celebrate and communicate your successes as a team, department or company.  Take a look at the excellent Dan Ariely TED presentation to see what I mean.

Put your people first ~ Your people really are your greatest asset. Make sure that every member of your team/organisation is valued. Talk to them, listen to them, invest in their learning and always put them at the top of your agenda.

Thank you for reading and please share this post with others who you think may find it helpful.

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This is an extract from the LeaderFocus App for the iPad available on iTunes.  To learn more and to download the LeaderFocus App click on the icon.  Keith Barnwell is a leadership development specialist and executive coach at It’s All About Leadership.