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15 Habits of Highly Motivational Leaders

15 Habits of Highly Motivational Leaders

The essence of motivation is the belief that something different, something better is possible. It is a desire to do more, to achieve more. Highly motivational leaders arouse this belief in people and incite positive action toward a desired goal or outcome. Whether they are leading a large multinational organization or a small local community toward a goal, highly motivational leaders are focused and demonstrate habits that set them apart. Here are 15 powerful habits of highly motivational leaders that perpetuate a bias for action and lend themselves to deeper connection, inspiration and devotion among those fortunate enough to follow such leaders.

1. They study situations carefully.

Highly motivational leaders have a habit of studying each situation, problem or circumstance thoroughly before they set about to address it. They know people will only listen to and act on what you say if they believe you fully understand what is happening and how it is affecting them. You cannot lead people, let alone inspire them, if you don’t understand the heart of their problems. Understand your followers’ problems and or challenges fully and you will earn their trust and listening ear.

2. They listen attentively.

Motivational leaders listen to the stories and plights of the people they lead. They take a keen interest in their followers’ hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future. This helps them establish a deep connection with their followers or team at a human-to-human level, which in turn allows them to relate with their feelings, pains and joys. Listen to those you lead. It tells them “I care” and “I want to help.”

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3. They speak authentically.

Highly motivational leaders speak their minds openly and honestly without fear or favor. They challenge misplaced ideas and rebuff oppressive systems not just to improve the lives of their followers, but also to impact the greater world positively. If you have an idea or opinion, vocalize it. If you are quiet, you stifle your ideas to death and deny your followers the opportunity to try and challenge or contribute to them. Remember authentic leadership is powered by authentic communication.

4. They make the tough calls.

Highly motivational leaders are not afraid to make the tough calls. In fact, they are celebrated for their judgment and tough calls. You simply cannot be an inspirational leader if you have a habit of shying away from making tough calls. It is your duty as a leader to step up whenever opportunities that require enormous bets arise and make sound, objective judgments. That is a mark of strong, motivational leadership.

5. They set the example.

Highly motivational leaders lead by example. There is hardly anything worse for morale than a leader who doesn’t practice what he or she preaches. The “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy is a deadly poison that kills peoples’ motivation. Be the example you want others to follow. If you tell your company staff to stay late at work, be the first to stay late at work. Your team is watching and your actions speak louder than your words.

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6. They raise expectations.

Highly motivational leaders have a habit of setting high standards and pushing their teams to greater heights. They align core goals with core values and hold every member of their teams accountable for their individual and shared actions. This breeds common belief, dedication and focus. Show your team how they are an uncommon breed and expect nothing but the best from each one of them.

7. They put something on the line.

People often let the foot off the gas in the pursuit of a goal when there is nothing at stake. However, when something valued or highly desirable is on the line, people are focused and put every effort to achieve it. Highly motivational leaders ensure their team knows what is on the line. They let them know that what is on the line is worth caring about; it is worth pursing and within reach. Assure your team that every creative input, every application of talent, and every expended effort takes them closer to that desired outcome.

8. They remove productivity barriers.

Highly motivational leaders know that progress is key for continued engagement, focus and satisfaction in a cause or pursuit. They, therefore, habitually remove productivity barriers that hinder progress, including fear, doubt and lack of resources. Keep your team sufficiently motivated and active in a cause by providing what is necessary to make things happen.

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9. They focus on the positives.

Highly motivational leaders know your attitude determines your altitude. They, therefore, tend to focus more on the positives, while still not overlooking the negatives. They highlight the strengths and talents of their team more and strive to keep an optimistic attitude. This births hope and motivates everyone to improve and pull together towards a shared purpose. Constantly remind your followers that good things are possible and will come in time with effort, patience and persistence.

10. They promote work flexibility.

People’s personal and professional lives sometimes collide. Highly motivational leaders know this and habitually work to manage this collision properly. They help their followers find the right balance between the demands of work and personal lives at home by creating flexible work (or participation) schedules that suit everyone. This habit promotes healthy engagement and commitment to a cause or goal. Remember, butts in the seat at work don’t always equate to productivity.

11. They encourage fun/play.

Highly motivational leaders know that all work and no play can wear out even the best, most dedicated follower. They, therefore, habitually encourage fun and play at work to spice things up a bit, relieve tensions and celebrate even the small victories. Imagine how refreshing, rejuvenating and motivating a company party with music and dance can be, especially when the team is feeling a little stressed or drained. Organize parties or shows with music and other fun activities for your team occasionally to celebrate victories, prevent burnout and bolster team spirit.

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12. They give honest feedback.

Highly motivational leaders know everybody wants to improve and be better in life. They, therefore, habitually give thoughtful, constructive feedback to their followers to help them improve and be better individually, as well as a team. Giving honest feedback and helping your followers improve is a mark of a true leader. Give honest feedback without being brutish to develop and help your team become more polished, refined and skilled.

13. They give praise where it is due.

Highly motivational leaders habitually give praise where it is due. They verbally express their gratitude for the efforts, sacrifices and contribution of the team. This creates a good feeling of self-worth and self-importance within the team, which makes people feel that their leader genuinely cares and wants them to succeed. Let people know that their role in the team is important and give them praise for a job well done. This can bring you rewards as a leader that no amount of money can buy.

14. They seek help/support when necessary.

Highly motivational leaders habitually seek help and support whenever they need it. They are not afraid to show some vulnerability because no human being is totally in charge of everything and knows everything. Seek qualified help whenever you need it. Don’t pretend to know everything. Seeking help as a leader shows deep appreciation and humility. It is an act of confidence in the knowledge and skills of others and inspires trust and respect..

15. They take responsibility.

Highly motivational leaders take responsibility for everything that happens under their leadership, both good and bad. They never shift blame to their followers when undesired results happen. They are the first to say, “I was wrong. I made the wrong choice.” And, “We need to change course.” Stand up, brush the dust from your clothes, roll your sleeves and lead the way again toward the outcome you want. Everybody makes bad decisions sometimes. What matters is what you do after you make those mistakes.

Featured photo credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Published on March 19, 2019

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success


Do you remember the last time you faced a major setback–when you felt so low, that nothing seemed to make you happy? No matter how hard you tried, you just felt like the world was against you. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, or the loss of a loved one… maybe something bad happened at work? Whatever it may be, could you recall how your attitude was towards that situation?

Often when we’re caught in an unhappy situation, we feel limited and sometimes trapped. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can, but it’s never quite that simple.

Unfortunately, some people can remain in that terrible situation for weeks, months or even years; while others may come out strong and ready to start over–or continue from where they left off–fairly quickly.

So what sets these two groups apart?

The answer is their attitude.

Attitude is everything when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. 

When you’re able to have a positive mindset, you’ll be able to break free of your limitations that are holding you back.

A positive attitude also goes a long way in ensuring you come out victorious from whatever limitations that were holding you back before. It transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Positive Attitude Brings About Positive Health 

When you’re stuck in a rut, often the first thoughts that run through your head are negative, thus your outlook likely becomes pessimistic. But, if you can transform those thoughts into more positive ones, then you’re on your way to talking yourself out of that rut, which allows you to move forward.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring all the bad or unpleasant feelings altogether. It just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way–instead of taking everything as a victim to negative circumstances, you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Be aware of self talk!

These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason, while other self talk may arise from misconceptions that you create. Others could come from external sources such as negative people around you, or messages from the media.

The key is to surround yourself with positive influences that can help turn those negative thoughts into positive, more productive actions.You’ll not only feel better about the situation, but in the long run, positive thinking can lower your levels of distress and depression and give you better coping skills during hardships.

Researchers studying the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health have also found that positive thinking may provide increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and even greater resistance to the common cold!

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, but one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

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Suffering is Inevitable, So It’s Best to Accept It 

Now, one thing that everyone goes through at some point, is suffering. It’s a harsh reality, yet you can’t actually avoid it. We experience suffering as the result of unhappiness, fear, anger, loss or frustration. In fact, it would be hard to even imagine the feeling of happiness if we never experienced suffering! How would we ever compare it?

So instead of wallowing in sorrow about the suffering you have endured, take the suffering as an opportunity for change. Did you get laid off from your job? Perhaps this would be a good time to re-assess your career goals.

Rather than feeling negative and stuck, use your time and energy to find opportunities which will put you ahead. With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

This may sound crazy, but suffering is the secret to being successful! 

Here’s what I mean. It’s impossible to think of new ideas or understand new experiences without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who has met great successes has also faced many failures, as nobody wins on every try.

To propel you toward success, find a way to track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. It may be helpful to conduct a weekly review to assess where you are and acknowledge all of the small wins of the week. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, is an achievement; so, be sure to take note of them.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress. The point is, you’re making progress; even if it feels like suffering, you can see that it’s leading you to joy.

Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Each step you make towards progress is making you a better version of you.

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Gratitude Goes a Long Way in Shaping Attitude 

Now, this may seem difficult to do when you’re already feeling down, but having gratitude is a very useful when you’re trying to navigate your way out of a setback. Being grateful for existing accomplishments and the supports in your life will help you see them more clearly, build your own confidence, and give you a better overall outlook on what your limitations really are and what you have to do to overcome them.

With a grateful attitude, you limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Being grateful, even during the toughest of times, steers your attitude towards a more positive one, allowing you to get back on your feet much more quickly. Many studies done on gratitude have shown positive results for people who practice regularly, such as improvement in relationships and in mental health. There’s even studies that show higher motivation in work settings due to a simple ‘thank you’ from managers to their subordinates.

Believe in Yourself and Your Truth

This is often easier said than done, but is also the most empowering truth to overcoming your setbacks and limitations in life.

Many people find it hard to keep a positive attitude during tough times because they lack inner confidence. They doubt their abilities because of the ‘failure’ that they’re experiencing, and don’t think that they can rise above again.

But, confidence doesn’t just come from talent, luck or easy opportunity. Confidence comes from overcoming difficulties and facing your fears head on. 

Confidence is a result of getting out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll be, and the more positive your attitude will be. Confidence will help you see your goals more clearly, find your strengths within, reach your goals and overcome your limitations much more quickly.

Here’s a quick story about my own struggles helping me get ahead:

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain a solid readership. Just getting 100 visitors was a challenge and took a good bit of time. I had great ambitions for this site, yet it seemed like I was doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism, too. Some people thought that the world didn’t need yet another self help site, others offered the opinion that there was something wrong with the idea itself and I was making a mistake.

It was hard for me not to listen to them and, at some times, agree. But, persistence is key, and in the end I chose to believe in my truth.

I worked tirelessly changing the site layout, restructuring articles, and making the site more user friendly. Slowly, I expanded to a team with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people. With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later, we had influenced millions–and continue to do so.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing every challenge head on were the greatest contributing factors to increasing my confidence. So welcome the challenges that come; don’t avoid them, as they’re all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Your Attitude Sets the Tone for Success 

Do you see the importance of having a positive attitude? It is so much more than a mindset or state of mind. Your attitude sets the tone for every action and behavior that follows after, and that will determine how long it takes for you to break free from your current circumstance.

So if you’re currently in an unhappy situation, why not give it a try and look at things from a more positive outlook? As mentioned, not only does having a positive attitude bring about favorable outcomes, it also brings about positive health in the long run.

Embracing hardship as it is, and using it as a learning experience to grow, will also make you stronger. And, whether you’re going through good or bad times, practicing gratitude will no doubt help to limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Lastly, in any circumstance, you are your greatest barrier to success, which is why it’s important to always believe in yourself!

You will always have the power to be in control of your situation because your attitude is determined by you. So start harnessing all that positive thinking to turn those limitations into strengths!

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Featured photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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