There is a great deal of information on self-motivation — unfortunately, most of it is a myth.

How to motivate your team is a critical skill to learn and master. Even the best employees can lose motivation. Leaders are not exempt from a lack of motivation! Do not make the mistake of relying on self-motivation!

The motivation factor separates average teams from extraordinary ones.

It is a key skill to master and perhaps the most difficult for new leaders. If you are lucky, you already have a handful of highly motivated team members. Their attitude and actions will help others to become and stay motivated. Solely depending on these employees to keep everyone else motivated is a mistake. Everyone needs motivation from time to time. It is not a character flaw. It is the reality for people who are striving to become more than they thought they could be. Disappointments come. A bad result happens when you least expect it.

You are the ultimate cheerleader for yourself and your team.

Your attitude and actions contribute to your team’s ability to become and stay motivated. Watch your words as they have more power than you realize. Your actions limit or boost your team’s motivation.

Wise leaders know what motivates them. They take care of themselves and strive to be their best. They ask for help when they need it. They provide help to team members who are having a hard time and especially those who ask for help! They understand motivation is much like the tides — it rises and falls over time.

Being motivated is not solely the employees’ responsibility.

There is a myth that leaders do not have to motivate their teams and a lack of motivation is the sign of a lackluster employee. Nothing is further from the truth. Self-motivation is something that most people are not able to do for themselves. Doubts, concerns and stress can weigh down the most dedicated employees. A lack of motivation is a strong sign of disengagement. Something is wrong and it needs to be uncovered and addressed.

What motivates people varies widely but one thing Is universal.

Everyone wants to be valued, trusted, challenged and make lasting contributions. How you recognize an individual for their effort is just as important that you do it. Some want recognition and others want a quiet pat on the back. Wise leaders learn how people want to be recognized and develop different ways of showing your sincere gratitude. Simple words can be encouraging and motivating. Thanking someone for a job well done, for stepping out of their comfort zone, staying late to help a team member or to provide the customer with excellent service is always a smart move.

How you handle difficult situations is very important.

Acknowledge when certain tasks are less than glamorous and step up your effort to show your sincere appreciation. Do not burden one employee with these needed but tough jobs. Spread them out to different team members.  Work with your team to make them more bearable. This shows you empathize with their situation and you are more than a “do as I say or else” kind of leader. Leaders who show empathy in challenging times will have a greater impact on their team’s attitude and outlook than those that don’t.

Winning TOGETHER is a strong motivator for teams!

You need victories for your team to respect and trust you. They will likely doubt your judgment until they have gained confidence in you. They need victories to stay inspired and motivated. These victories need to be meaningful and not just an obvious attempt to buy favor. Small victories count at the start but they need to get bigger with time. The most important victory is the one that makes your team’s work easier. Listen for hot spots – the top two or three items they complain about the most. Decide to act and include them in solving them.

Your team needs to know you have their back and their interests at heart.

Being a loyal boss is highly motivating – too many leaders throw people under the bus for no good reason and then wonder why they are not performing better! Be consistent when troubleshooting and resolving problems. Never forget that great people make silly mistakes and have bad days. Don’t turn a bad day into a six month struggle to regain your team’s trust!

Everyone needs motivation. Do not rely on self-motivation! Recognize the signs and take action!

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