Motivational Leaders

12 Habits of Motivational Leaders

Apathy is the opposite of motivation. When apathy hooks itself into our belief system a lack of enthusiasm and interest dominate. Indifference suffocates action. Motivation, however, is a catalyst for action, marked with enthusiasm and interest. The mainspring of motivation is the belief that something different, perhaps better, is possible. It is that cause that motivational leaders tap into when inspiring others. And from such beliefs habits emerge that perpetuate goodness, possibility, and the desire to do more, to achieve more. Motivational leaders incite action and deepen relationships.

The habits of motivational leaders foster a bias for action and connectedness amongst all those fortunate to be inspired by such people. The following habits are not presented in an intentional order.

Motivation is a catalyst for action, marked with enthusiasm and interest.

Knows Employees’ Stories

To be listened to and understood are powerful motivators, signals that say, “I know you.” Motivational leaders disregard outdated beliefs about the relationship between manager and employee. Such leaders purposefully take an interest in their employees’ aspirations and lives for no other reason than to find a way to relate, to connect as human beings.

Creates Optimism at Work

Motivational leaders inspire hope in their employees that their work has meaning, is valued and its impact is understood. A sense of optimism at work holds that good things are possible when people come together to apply their talents to a shared purpose.

Has Allegiance to Company Values and Vision

Purpose is uncovered when values and vision are understood and incorporated into leadership actions. The two pillars of leadership guide actions, decisions and shape how we communicate and relate to one another.

Motivational leaders incite action and deepen relationships.

Creates Room for Peer-to-Peer Recognition

In a recent study of engagement, start-up company TinyHR found that peer-to-peer recognition was vital to employees engagement.

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Motivational leaders recognize that the art and science of inspiring is a shared responsibility by everyone on the team, no matter the role.

Keeps Financials Open

The financial health, the sales targets, the number of accounts, the pay of each employee. These financial elements, when known, serve as a lightening rod to motivate action and decisions. A shared understanding of what it costs to run the business creates ownership of business outcomes brought forth by the hard work of each employee.

Motivational leaders inspire hope in their employees that their work has meaning, is valued and its impact is understood.

Raises Expectations

Motivational leaders know what their teams are capable of accomplishing together and individually, and will hold them accountable to those expectations. Expectations are not a mystery. They are clear, they are shared, and they are reinforced not with an accusatory or forceful manner, but in a supportive fashion.

Gives Feedback Frequently

Feedback is not evil. It is both positive and constructive. It is common and is used to motivate and encourage.

Promotes an Integrated Life

Our personal and professional lives to collide. They cannot be separated. Motivational leaders recognize this and help their employees balance the demands and their impact on work and at home.

Expectations are not a mystery. They are clear. They are shared.

Makes Work Meaningful

Why something is valued or desired is important to adults. Without The Why, we are merely following instructions: passion is absent and purpose is meaningless. Meaningful work is when there is something on the line worth caring about. That the application of my talents advances the team closer to the desired outcome.

Promotes Play

Another finding in the TinyHR engagement survey results found that teaming, communication, helping, and working together were the top factors when rating co-workers. Imagine that these elements are at play in your team. Imagine how motivating these things are.

Advocates Work Flexibility

Work is something you do, not a place you go, according to Citrix. Motivational leaders accept the trend that butts in seat in the office doesn’t equate to productivity. Jason Fried of 37 Signals wrote in his latest book, Remote, that “work is an interruption factory.” It’s freeing and motivation to work in an environment that lets employees do their best work.

Without The Why, we are merely following instructions: passion is absent and purpose is meaningless. Meaningful work is when there is something on the line worth caring about.

Removes Barriers

Progress in work is key to engagement and satisfaction. A motivational leader will remove impediments to progress to keep employees motivated, focused, and satisfied with their accomplishments.

Each habit stands on its own, no more important than the others. It’s when they are used together that a leader makes the difference.



Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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  • Donna Farrer

    Excellent post! As a manager in our business I use many of these ideas on a daily basis. Especially the “make work meaningful”, when the employees get to the point that things are mundane then you lose so much of the drive! I have been reading Driving to Perfection by Brian Fielkow, is the site. And he writes so brilliantly about being successful in the business world and so many of the things are little but they can make or break the whole picture!

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  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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