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Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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4 Motivating and developing staff

You know from Weeks 3 and 4 that motivating yourself and your team is a key element of the leadership task. Here, you’ll look in more detail at how to build their motivation and maintain it.

A word cloud incorporating words such as motivation, business, teamwork and success.
Figure 6 Key words that capture the essence of motivation.

For a team to be motivated, they need to know what they are working towards and share your enthusiasm and commitment to achieving it. If they believe in you and respect you as a leader, they will often follow you when they are not yet certain about something. There are three elements that are required to facilitate this effectively:

  1. a clear vision that you believe in, and a focus on the impact of the work you are doing
  2. regular and inspiring communication to the whole team, not just your direct reports
  3. leading by example and making yourself visible and accessible to your team.

Professor Jean Hartley agrees that communicating progress is a crucial and sometimes challenging part of keeping your team inspired and focused.

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Before you can effectively motivate your team, a useful starting point is to think about what motivates you. Activity 5 will help you to do that.

Activity 5 What motivates you?

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think about a professional situation in which you felt really motivated. What made you feel like that? How was your motivation demonstrated in your actions? Summarise the situation in the box below.

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Remember that different people feel and demonstrate their motivation in different ways, so consider the personality types of your team members when looking for signs that they are with you.

Enthusiasm and commitment can be demonstrated in a range of ways, from an individual volunteering to take on extra tasks/responsibilities to tasks being quietly completed on time or even early!

A key method for motivating individuals is to show an interest in their circumstances. Support them, coach them, look together at their career plan and consider ways in which to develop them – most people will respond. Development doesn’t have to be all about attending a formal training course, it could involve:

  • work shadowing/secondment to a different department or organisation
  • taking on a new responsibility that stretches them, for example, chairing a discussion group or delivering some training
  • allowing a team member to implement a new idea they have had
  • delegating some of your work to someone – showing you trust them to represent you
  • encouraging someone to find or become a mentor.

Use your leadership journal to reflect on how you might use this list with current team members.

The business advantages of developing a motivated team are significant and you explored them in Week 5 when you looked at the benefits of developing effective followers. A motivated team is usually happier and more productive, leading to better staff retention and improved business performance.