By Ken Goodfellow

Motivation comes from within. Just ask the athletes competing in this summer’s Olympic Games.

Understanding the internal nature of motivation is critical. Motivation, like attitude, cannot be worn on the outside like a suit. It has to come from within.

Just how critical is motivation? It creates momentum and that is the force that makes money, unifies teams and grows businesses into their true potential.



For a business to reach its full potential, it needs the right team. Would you rather have someone on your team who is motivated but limited in their abilities, or an individual who is highly skilled but not motivated? It’s a difficult decision to make, but I would most certainly choose the motivated individual.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? Understanding what causes motivation can fast track a team and team leader to unlock their full potential.

The team leader must cause motivation to happen internally, rather than causing employees merely to produce the desired external results. When properly motivated, results will flow naturally.

An alternative to this is micromanagement. When team leaders micromanage, the employee is not really able to feel proud of his accomplishments. The repercussion of micromanaging is an employee who is not as motivated to work harder at the next opportunity.

When team leaders cause results, the end effect is exhaustion for the leader, inferior performance from the employee and a decreasing sense of motivation for all in question.

People need to take pride in what they are doing. That extends to all levels and all participants of any given job.

No matter how many things are on the to-do list, do one thing at a time and make sure each one is completed. There is nothing more unmotivating than feeling like you’re simply running on a treadmill, with too many tasks to ever successfully finish and/or with ever-incomplete tasks that are a standard part of the operating procedure. If you consistently promote the expectation of success throughout every project, employees are more likely to feel motivated at each step, expecting subsequent successes. In this vein, remember that it is always better to have one thing completely done than many simply hanging in the balance.

Listen and listen well. One of the biggest de-motivating factors for an employee is a leader who does not listen. Listening is often a difficult skill to learn but an incredibly important component of promoting self-accountability in all members of a team. Tune in before you turn on and remember to listen first and talk second.

Team leaders can significantly affect the driving force of their employee’s inner motivation by having an approachable management style. While letting the employee do the job, also let them give you feedback on the project. When everyone is involved in the planning stage, everyone understands and appreciates how he or she contributes to the final outcome.

Also, you may have heard this before but it’s true.  Successful entrepreneurs agree that the best way to get excellent performance is to set a stellar example. Your own motivation – as evidenced by your actions – in leadership and your hard work – speaks volumes more than anything that your words could say to a member of your team.

In order to track motivation, have managers and employees set goals for themselves. Write those goals down, keep them in a visible place and make sure to verbalize them. Once a week, discuss with your team how close you are to reaching your target.

As a project progresses, give everyone involved sincere feedback. With a positive but honest bent, let people know how they are doing and give them the space and time to adjust their actions and working plan to reflect the feedback received. Positive reinforcement should be given for results.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to let people know when they are under-performing.  Confrontation in the form of sincerely addressing the issue instead of attacking the person takes finesse.  It’s truly an art and it leads to enhanced motivation.

Begin by appreciating what the person you are confronting brings to the table. Feed the person’s ego a bit while restating your commitment to that person. Create a performance agreement that relies on accountability. Track the performance, show the person their improvement and reward them. The simple knowledge that one is becoming increasingly successful at his or her job after previously struggling is a great motivator in and of itself.

Finally, make sure to tell employees every day that you appreciate what they do. Feeling listened to and cared about helps to create a motivated team that gets results that benefit everyone.

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