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Published on November 13, 2019

9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership

9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership

Motivation drives nearly every action of our lives. Think about it, what motivated you to walk into the kitchen and make a sandwich? Hunger. What motivated you to get up and go to work this morning? At the very basic level, it was probably the desire to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Motivation is an incredibly powerful force in our lives and is part of our human nature. We all need a “why” to push towards.

This “why” is behind every business idea that has ever been put into action — both successfully and unsuccessfully. You as a manager may have buckets of self-motivation that never runs dry, however, if that drive can’t be passed on to those around you, then accomplishing the goals of the group will be difficult, if not next to impossible.

Project deadlines, long-term growth, and even day-to-day objectives depend on solid leadership that fosters motivation.

Understanding the importance of motivation in team members, and knowing how to go about building this is a requirement of every leader’s toolkit. There’s no concrete method for motivation — after all, human nature can be unpredictable.

While motivation in leadership may at times be incredibly challenging, its benefits can mean the difference between an exceptional team and a floundering one. Let’s break down the relationship between leadership and motivation and how to go about building it in your team members.

1. Motivated Members Make for a Stronger Team

At its very basic level, strong leadership motivation allows a team or company to accomplish its goals. If nobody is motivated to do the work, then nothing is going to get done. It doesn’t get more plain and simple than that.

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Disengaged team members can place a company in a very risky position. On the other side of that coin, employees who are motivated and actively engaged in the work their company is doing make for an organization with stronger output.

Imagine you have a team of seven employees and all seven are motivated to accomplish a single goal. Now imagine that same team and only two of the employees are motivated and the other five would rather waste the workday surfing around the internet. Accomplishing that single goal is going to require a lot more time and energy.

2. Better Communication Equates to More Success

Communication is, without a doubt, one of the key elements to strong leadership that fosters motivation. People have a natural desire to feel recognized and learning how to effectively communicate with your team members, both one-on-one and as a group will make all the difference.

According to a 2014 Gallup survey of 1,015 workers, 46 percent of them said that they rarely or never leave a meeting understanding what they are supposed to do.[1] This statistic should be a wakeup call to every leader that they need to refine how they communicate with their staff.

How is someone on your team supposed to successfully carry out a task if they’re unsure of what the task entails, why they’re doing it, or how to best go about it? Effective leaders are always good communicators and motivation is a product of that.

3. Projecting a Positive Attitude Is Paramount

Henry Ford said,

“Think you can or think you can’t. Either way, you are correct.”

Optimism is a leader’s most important tool in fighting employee pessimism that can kill motivation and derail goals. If you’re not motivated to be a better leader, then creating motivation in those around you is going to be difficult.

As a leader, you’re not just directing the duties of who does this or that, but molding people’s beliefs in the work they do. From the emails that you use to communicate with employees to how you conduct yourself in the break room, a positive attitude sends the message that you have confidence in your team. That’s an incredibly powerful tool in cultivating motivation.

4. Focus on Intrinsic Over Extrinsic Motivation

It can be easy for leaders to focus on extrinsic motivation which translates into people being motivated because of the opportunity for reward or fear of punishment. While setting the bar to meet a certain sales quota in order to attain a bonus, or risk being fired can be a powerful motivator, it’s only tapping into one type of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are motivated to perform a behavior or activity because it results in personal satisfaction.

A perfect example of this is a 2013 study that looked at nurses who were assembling surgical kits.[2] Nurses who met the health-care practitioners who would use their kits worked longer and made fewer errors than the nurses who never met the user of those kits.

5. Make Individual Connections That Communicate the “Why”

As pointed out in the example above, the nurses had a greater connection with the “why” behind their task of assembling the surgical kits. A text message can communicate this “why” to team members, but it may not always be the most effective way of building motivation.

Leaders grow and thrive when then they establish strong bonds with those on their team by getting to know them. Relationships build real motivation and when you know your team members on more than just a name basis, you have a greater chance of communicating the “why” behind the goal. In turn, your employees are more likely to care about the work they do.

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6. Praise Team Members and Build Motivation

There’s a reason that your teacher put a gold star sticker on your homework when you got all the questions correct. Positive praise simply feels good and people like to be recognized for a job well done.

According to a study by Harvard Business School, employees who receive praise from a manager are more motivated — i.e. more productive — than those who do not receive praise.[3] What a surprise, people who are told “job well done” are more motivated to continue doing good work.

If a leader demonstrates to those around them that their work is valued and appreciated, those team members are going to feel more motivated to tackle the next task at hand. Learn more about this type of motivation: 5 Ways to Make the Best Use of Extrinsic Motivation

7. Hold People Accountable and Provide Feedback

Equally as important as a leader’s ability to praise, is a leader’s ability to correct mistakes or improper actions. When a leader neglects poor performance, it can set a dangerous precedent and demotivate previously engaged employees. People simply aren’t as motivated to do good work when others on the team don’t pull their weight and a leader doesn’t step in to correct it.

Whereas praising a team member in view of others can be a powerful motivator for the entire team, correcting an employee in private can preserve employee egos. By providing feedback to a team member in private, you’ll be in a better place to motivate without the distraction of others.

8. Ask Questions Often and Work Towards Solutions

A motivating leader regularly engages with those around them to find out where they stand with the job. People need to know that their leaders have a genuine interest in their role on a team and an opportunity to express concerns or share ideas.

  • Does your team member have all the resources they need?
  • Are they being challenged or encouraged to develop new skills?
  • Do they see a problem that’s not being addressed?

Don’t underestimate the value that showing a genuine interest in an employee’s role can have in creating motivation. By asking questions often and listening to your employees, they’ll feel that they’re more equipped in taking on new responsibilities and have greater respect for leadership.

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9. Promote a Healthy Working Lifestyle

Workers who are healthy and happy are going to be more productive and feel better about showing up each day to get the job done. Employee burn out is a real thing and if employees are constantly being pushed to work longer hours with more responsibilities, motivation can suffer and resentment towards the leadership can emerge.

There are times, of course, when burning the midnight oil is simply part of the job. Making the right moves, though, can prevent tired employees from throwing their arms up and walking out the door. Healthy initiatives from providing healthy snacks, to building in an activity to provide a little stress relief can help keep a team motivated.

Final Thoughts

Effective leadership creates results, and in order to achieve those results and set bigger and better goals, a leader must understand motivation’s role to the “why.” When a leader is able to translate this message to their team members and act as a role model and teacher, they’ll surround themselves with more motivated employees.

Leadership motivation encompasses a range of factors and each plays a part in a team’s overall success. It might start with a leader’s self-motivation, but it should include the entire team as a whole.

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Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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