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15 Habits of Highly Motivational Leaders

15 Habits of Highly Motivational Leaders
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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..

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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

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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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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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