The ability to inspire or incentivize others to take action.


Greater things can happen when people are motivated. Each person is different in the way he/she becomes motivated. Being a good motivator includes believing it's a leader's job to motivate—that all people are different, and that motivating each of them can take a slightly different approach.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:58

Skilled Characteristics

  • Climate

    Creates a climate in which people want to do their best

  • Inspirational

    Can motivate many kinds of people, including team members

  • Insight

    Can assess each person’s hot button and use it to get the best out of him/her

  • Delegates

    Gives responsibility and authority for tasks to others

  • Empowers

    Gives people opportunity to try new things

  • Inviting

    Invites input from each person and shares ownership and visibility

  • Value

    Makes each individual feel his/her work is important – is someone people like working for and with

“In motivating people, you’ve got to engage their minds and their hearts.”

– Rupert Murdoch

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Lacks Insight

    Doesn’t know what motivates others or how to do it

  • Underperforms

    People under him/her don’t perform at their best

  • Limiting

    Not empowering, and not a person many people want to work for, around or with

  • Style

    May be a one-style-fits-all person, have simplistic models of motivation, or may not care as much as most others do; may be a driver just interested in getting the work out

  • Unaware

    May be a poor reader of others, may not pick up on their needs and cues

  • Judgmental

    May be judgmental and stereotype people

  • Discouraging

    Intentionally or unintentionally demotivates others through their words and actions

What has been your biggest challenge in motivating your staff?

Causes of Weakness

  • Single Approach

    A one-style-fits-all approach to interacting with people

  • Unrealistic

    Believes everyone should be naturally motivated and that the leader doesn’t need to do the motivating

  • Uninformed

    Does not believe that motivation is necessary or important – people should do their jobs whether they are excited about it or not

  • Inexperienced

    Have trouble talking with people not like oneself

  • Judgmental

    Judgmental about others

  • Sameness

    Prefers to treat everyone the same

  • Simple

    Has too simple of views of motivation and how to motivate people

Consider the motivation challenges you face with your team. How can you better use communication, training, processes, technology, work environment, feedback, and/or rewards to better motivate your staff?


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Principles

    PRINCIPLES: Communicate to people that what they do is important. Say thanks. Offer help and ask for it. Provide autonomy in how people do their work. Provide a variety of tasks. “Surprise” people with enriching, challenging assignments. Show an interest in their careers. Adopt a learning attitude toward mistakes. Celebrate successes.

  • Motivators

    MOTIVATORS: 1) a challenging job, 2) accomplishing something worthwhile, 3) learning new things, 4) personal development, and 5) giving autonomy.

  • Drivers

    SET GOALS: Most people are motivated by having set reasonable goals. They like to measure themselves against a standard. They like to see who can run the fastest, score the most, and work the best. They like goals to be realistic but stretching.

  • Determine Drivers

    DETERMINE DRIVERS: To understand what motivates a person, look at: What do they do first? What do they emphasize in their speech? What do they display emotion about? What values play out for them? What are their hot buttons (things that make them react or get emotional or excited)? What do they talk about that may drive them (i.e. money, recognition, integrity, efficiency)?

  • Your World

    YOUR WORLD: Bring people into your world by explaining how you think, your perspective, the questions you ask, or the factors you’re interested in. If people don’t understand where you’re coming from, it is hard for them to be inspired or motivated by you.

  • Get Personal

    GET PERSONAL: Know three non-work things about everybody—their interests and hobbies or their children or something you can chat about. Find things that you have in common with each person. Having something in common will help bond the relationship and allow you to individualize how you motivate each person.

  • Empower

    EMPOWER: Delegate and empower as much as you can. Get him/her involved in setting goals and determining the work process to get there. Ask his/her opinion about decisions that have to be made. Have him/her help review and give feedback about the work. Share successes. Debrief the failures together. Use his/her full skills.

  • Consequences

    CONSEQUENCES: Evaluate all of the existing consequences that either motivate or de-motivate people to engage with the behavior or activity you are wanting them to engage in. Think about both immediate and delayed consequences. What de-motivating consequences can you avoid, eliminate or minimize? How can you strengthen existing motivating consequences or create additional motivating consequences so that there are MORE encouraging than discouraging consequences?