Have you noticed how everyone seems to have an opinion about motivation -- how one is motivated, and how leaders motivate their troops? It's such a broad term, there are more than 100 definitions about the concept of motivation.
Thinking of motivation simply as, for example, "the energy a person has to act on something," doesn't take into account the nature of human motivation -- the very reasons we behave when we are "motivated."
In other words, it's not IF, but WHY people are motivated.
And when we think about our own motivation as leaders, and align that with the reasons others are motivated at their core as followers, we can understand how to provide the right kind of leadership.
Lets look at the leadership behaviors that consistently inspire and motivate people at the core of their human design.
1. You must clarify goals and expectations.
Great leaders provide leadership by setting goals and keeping people abreast of those goals over time. Because sometimes things change. Do your people know what is expected of them at work? This is one of the top five reasons, Gallup has found in their extensive research, why employees are disengaged and why things go south -- not having clear goals and expectations.
And it's equally important to define goals in the short-term as well as the long-term. So help your tribe see the context of their role and their work on a micro level -- how the small stuff matters -- and connect all that on a macro level, letting them see the big picture. Clarify for them how what they do fits in with those two contexts.
2. You must focus on strengthening relationships.
Does that sound like another old corporate cliché? If so, "strengthening relationships" really comes down to communicating better. Most leaders don't spend enough time getting to know their people, and people are naturally designed for relationships. The best way to do this is through one-on-one conversations for them to learn more about their work, and for you to learn more about them as people -- their strengths, interests and desires -- which will help you, the leader, to identify opportunities where they could contribute more to the team.
3. You must release control and increase delegation.
Now, of course, there's a step before this that needs to take place--improving competence in those you lead. So think about what or how a valued team member can learn from you, how you can coach and mentor that person so she is involved more in making decisions and increasing her own capacity to perform at a high level. When that happens, people solve problems on their own quicker, which releases you to delegate to your heart's content.
4. You must praise, encourage and recognize your people.
People will go through periods of insecurity, especially as they start a new role or job. Therefore, managers need to give them confidence and build them up through encouragement, praise, and positive affirmation.
People are also naturally wired to want to feel special. Managers have to get into the habit of looking for good qualities and strengths in people, complimenting them, and sincerely recognizing them in front of their peers for doing good work. The highest compliment an employee can receive is one given to them by their manager. The more specific the better because it helps them to grow.