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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 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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17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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