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9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership

9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership
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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.

More About Leadership

Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond 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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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