There is a quote from the ancient sage Lao Tzu that brilliantly sums up the depiction of modern day, authentic leadership: "Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power."
There is no denying that in many leadership roles an element of power is expected. How you exercise your influence to inspire a degree of deference is an entirely different matter. Contrary to what you may believe, the relationship between superiors and their subordinates is not one-sided.
The reality is, that in the workplace, employees always have a choice to get on board with you and your organization and produce their best work. Like it or not, they will decide whether or not they will allow you to lead them and whether they respect you enough to accept your ideas. They can be your ally, tirelessly working toward a common goal, or be determined to oppose you. They will choose to trust your directives -- or curtail your progress. This means that if you impulsively forge ahead, and attempt to forcibly execute an outcome without heeding the will of your colleagues, you will most likely be in for a rough ride.
Your employees may comply -- but are they committed?
If you want to crack the "motivation code" -- try showing a little humility. Humility is the antidote to the belief that positional power is "real" power. For some leaders, positional power is only the pretext for grandiosity, arrogance and an "ivory tower" mentality. But a humble leader is a heart-centered leader who puts their employees before themselves, and is profoundly aware that employees do their best work when there is a high level of commitment to their company and its leadership.
The ability to utilize your leadership powers for "good" can be transformative, if you can positively influence the lives that you lead. To understand how to inspire your team and improve motivation, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do your employees find meaning and purpose in their work?
2. What have you done as a leader to show them their importance and the significance of their opinions?
3. When was the last time you made it possible for your team to be proud of their work?
4. How often do you celebrate the impact your employees have on your company's success?
5. What are you doing to make work inspiring, rewarding, and stimulating?
These questions may help you unearth the deeper mind-sets of your associates, and be more conscious of the motives behind their actions and behavior. If you put the virtue of humility into practice, you are inviting those you lead to take on the role of empowered and caring contributors to the team.