Motivating leaders are dynamic people who can flex their leadership style to match each person’s needs. These leaders are often relationship builders. They are more interested in finding what motivates each employee to reach high levels of performance. Motivating leaders care about the whole person and not only the employee’s role. In short, highly motivating leaders are social leaders who care about people and results.
Today’s leaders rely on a vast array of habits to help their team accomplish great things.
We all are carrying extra stress these days: worries about COVID, layoffs, furloughs, politics, natural disasters. Leaders who can show empathy for what their employees are experiencing in these uncertain times build rapport. That rapport helps to build healthy relationships between boss and employee. A great relationship positively influences motivation.
Our brains are wired to think about relationships. It is what neuroscientists call the “default network.” The default network automatically activates and drives us to think about the relationships in our lives. Even the history of humanity reveals that we are driven to develop relationships with others. They were, after all, a way of survival for our ancestors.
Relatedness is finding meaningful relationships with a group of people. Relatedness helps us feel like we belong. Relatedness at work helps shape a positive attitude towards work. Frequent, satisfying interactions with colleagues motivate us to step up our game and do our best work.
An essential aspect of being a motivating leader is knowing what motivates each person. You need to learn what motivates each individual on your team purposefully. Then, spend time tailoring your leadership style to help get the best performance from each person.
Some people are motivated by a promotion while others find meaningful work more important.
Cultivate an Optimistic Climate
Your leadership style has the most significant impact on how employees feel about work. Highly motivating leaders work intentionally to craft a climate that feels optimistic. Such an environment gives people hope that good things will come from their hard work.
You can cultivate an optimistic climate by doing any of the items included in this list.
Promote Positive Identity
Work shapes how you feel about yourself. If work is going well, you’ll likely see how you positively contribute to the good. The opposite is true, too. Help promote a positive identity in your employees by helping them understand the effects of their work on business results.
Encourage employees. Share your appreciation for their accomplishments and contributions. When your leadership helps others feel good about themselves, their motivation increases.
Perhaps the simplest action in this list is to create clarity. Help employees clearly understand the team’s goals. Constantly communicate work priorities. Help employees prioritize their work if needed. And like the above item, give feedback to employees. Let them know what they’re doing that works and what needs to change. Have regular conversations about the team’s purpose.
Master Work-Life Mix
Start-up company BambooHR has an anti-workaholic policy. It’s designed to promote employees making time to do things they enjoy outside of work. The reason behind this policy, or belief, is that employees who are satisfied with their personal world perform better in their professional one.
Show you care about a positive mix between your employees’ personal and professional worlds. This signals you are mindful of their life outside work. This is highly motivating.
As a motivating leader, you work tirelessly to inspire people. You’re self-less. You are results-driven. While leadership focuses on the “soft” side of business, it’s done so to create hard results. At the same time, it’s done to make a meaningful work experience.
Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now. Shawn's first book, The Optimistic Workplace is out now. Inc. has listed him twice as one of the top leadership speakers in America.
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