This article originally appeared in Small Biz Daily.
Let’s face it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders often find that motivating team members is challenging. One reason is because leaders seldom lack self-motivation. It’s so second nature to them that they get frustrated when a team member doesn’t appear to have the same level of drive and ambition.
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from business leaders is, “How can I motivate my team?” Imagine their surprise when I tell them, “You can’t.” My responsibility as a coach is to help company leaders grasp the underlying reasons for their own motivation and ensure that those reasons are consistent with their business’s goals and objectives. In the same way, leaders need to stop looking for ways to motivate, and instead find ways to inspire team members to seek out their own motivation.
Business leaders must understand that team members will not always share their outlook, passion or motivation. So instead of forcing your will (and drive) on others, use these four approaches to inspire motivation in your team:
Show your team members how it’s done and dedicate yourself to showing your passion and motivation in everything you do. When your team sees your genuine excitement and enthusiasm, they’ll be much more likely to increase their energy level and get on board.
It’s vital that you are open and honest about the task at hand. You must get your team members to understand why the task is so important to you personally and to the company. Not every goal, task or objective will foster the same amount of excitement and teamwork. If what you want is challenging or risky, let your team know. They’ll respect your transparency and be more likely to trust you and your leadership.
There are two surefire ways to destroy the individual motivation among team members: one is micromanaging, and the other is being so hands-off that team members don’t know what to do when problems arise. That’s where you need to find a balance. Give your team the freedom they need to feel empowered and motivated, but stay involved so you can provide the necessary guidance if and when team members get discouraged.
Before you give your team their marching orders, let them know you have confidence in their abilities. Take time to explain why a successful outcome is important to you personally and for the business. They’ll be much more likely to meet your expectations – not because they’re doing it for you, but because they’re also working hard for the benefit of the team as a whole. It’s also crucial to celebrate wins with the team and to express your appreciation. I can’t stress that enough. An individual reward can be a great motivational tool, but it’s just as important that you celebrate as a team.
All leaders have days where they’re more inspirational than others. Nonetheless, when you’ve got a team to lead, you have to step it up and show them how it’s done. We all know how infectious positive energy can be. When you live by example and spread it around, it will become embedded in your company culture. You’ll see the results every day and, as an added benefit, you’ll create your next group of leaders.