Uninspired, demoralized workers are less productive than their inspired peers. Studies consistently show that a motivated staff is a productive one. The question isn’t how do you motivate your team? It’s how do you become a motivational leader? To get your staff to emulate Steve Jobs’ creativity and Elon Musk’s work ethic, start by taking a hard look in the mirror. If you want to know how to be a motivational leader, start thinking about your own early sources of inspiration. Then change yourself first or as Mahatma Gandhi once put it, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.”
Be a Teacher
Do you remember when a teacher inspired you to greatness? Even if your favorite was in grade school, chances are you remember that teacher’s name. You also remember how you felt, how their inspiring words increased your self confidence which in turn increased your chances for success. Remember, the most inspiring people are the ones who are knowledgeable and able to offer unique insight and interesting opinions. Just as vital is a talent for sparking discussions –– even if it means being contrarian. To be a teacher in your office you must provide an informed insight into how you view the world. The first step in how to be a motivational leader involves sharing your knowledge with grace.
Be A Coach
When it’s halftime and a team is down by a couple of touchdowns, a motivating coach can make all the difference. Sure there are coaches who yell and throw chairs. No one wants an office chair thrower. Instead, become the sort of coach who quietly inspires by their own actions. Be humble. “Be curious, not judgmental” –– as Walt Whitman said and under qualified soccer coach Ted Lasso later quoted. If you don’t believe in your team, how will they ever believe in themselves? Start from a place of guiding them to greatness. Remember, everyone needs coaching occasionally. That could mean sharing pointers on your company or passing along a resume. Givers always get back the most. Investing your time in someone who shows promise often means they’ll later return the favor. Your intern might someday own a start-up with a billion dollar valuation. And won’t you be glad then that you were a generous, kindhearted coach?
Be a Great Communicator
Communicating isn’t just about talking. It’s about listening as well. Although we often think about what our teachers and coaches said, we shouldn’t forget those invaluable moments when they listened to us. Be available. Make your space a safe one for staff to talk to you about their concerns. Give them a voice –– or else they’ll stop talking. Instead of thinking about what you’ll say during the next conversational lull, reflect and rephrase what was said. Be an active listener.
According to the Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. Yet you can’t be a motivational leader without giving feedback to your team. You can’t be a motivational leader without listening. Take the time to show the people you manage that they’re important. Yes, you can and should reward achievements with everything from meals to bonuses to theater tickets. Yet giving everyone equal attention and helping them achieve their goals is also vital for crafting an inspired, motivated workplace.
If you’re still wondering how to be a motivational leader, here’s some advice that’s easy to give but hard to follow. Set high standards for yourself and meet them while accepting that those who don’t quite hit the mark are neither failures nor irredeemable. Remember, respect is earned not given.