Are You Internally or Externally Motivated?

To be an effective leader, you have to be able to inspire others, to literally-as the word inspire means-breathe life into them. What you are "breathing" into them is a connection to their own motivators, because motivation creates momentum and that momentum will get things accomplished.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you lift people up emotionally when you have a conversation with them?
  • Do you inspire them to see new possibilities?
  • Do your conversations develop your star performers, whose vision will continue to grow the business?
  • Do you help people connect their long-term goals to the everyday work they do?

If you've answered yes to these, you're an inspiring leader.

So how do you start a conversation like that, one that will inspire and motivate the stars on your team? Don't start with data, numbers or spreadsheets. Neuroscience research tells us that when we use the part of our brain that analyzes data and numbers, we turn off the part that engages with others emotionally-which is what we need first.

Instead, start that conversation sharing why the project you're discussing is important for their long-term goals, and how it connects to the business. Let the conversation move forward by asking a question about what they see as possibilities for themselves. Then you can bring out the spreadsheet and show the data's connection to your discussion, and the value that data has to the team.

Engaging emotionally with your staff is a good thing, as long as those emotions are positive. If you walk around the office angry and annoyed most of the time, your staff knows it. Keep yourself focused on what you want to create - what triggers passion and hope for you. It can't be a façade-you have to believe in your company's mission and the work you do or your employees will see right through you. I recall a coaching client who told me she had identified the phrase her boss used when he didn't believe the company information he was repeating. When he thought it was ridiculous, he wound up conveying that without actually saying it.

The most effective leaders use conversations to engage their followers. The quality of the relationship leaders build with those they manage is a direct result of intentional, developmental conversations over time. Sure, it's important to track measurements and results, but it's equally as important to be able to connect with your people on an emotional level. Without that emotional connection you won't be able to develop people into high-performers. Start by asking what you can do to help them, but keep in mind that's just the beginning of an ongoing conversation.

For team members to develop and change they need a system of support around them all the time - one conversation won't do the trick, it has to be an ongoing conversation that communicates:

  • The purpose of your organization
  • Key accountabilities and expectations of each role
  • Each person's connection between their own motivation and the organization's purpose or mission
  • Compassion, understanding and empathy
  • An increased understanding of each employee's present role and their possible future role at the company
  • Why employees are doing what they are doing