How To Motivate People

When I started out doing leadership development talks and working with teams I thought I could change people. Soon I realized I can't change people - people must change themselves. That doesn't mean I can't assist them. One of the primary roles of leadership is to create a culture of motivation. 

A culture of motivation is where motivation and personal drive is valued and rewarded. 

Here are 4 ways to motivate and build a culture of motivation:

1. Who you are is who you attract - My parents owned a family restaurant for nearly 30 years. I grew up washing dishes, bussing tables, being a grill cook, and hosting out front. At age 19 I was promoted to Assistant Manager. My father taught me a positive attitude may not be everything, but it's the first thing. He explained that our employees do what they see. I have to live it before I can expect it from anyone else. Also, on the proactive side - hire motivated people. That sounds obvious, but too often we focus on technical talents and skills not internal motivation. 

2. Practice High Touch - People are motivated when we connect with them relationally. Showing appreciation through words of affirmation sounds clear, but I deal daily with managers who miss this point. They get distracted by email and the clutter of information and forget it's about people. About people building. About having a relationship of trust, encouragement and partnering together in success. I encourage every leader to get out among the people. Drop your mobile devices. With every five minute investment of connecting you'll generate five hours of horsepower and results. Be the champion of others and pour the fuel of your belief in them!

3. Remember No One is Inspired by Low Expectations - Expect the best efforts. Expect the best results. Paint a picture of the future creating passion in the present. Having a vision for someone's professional career is like filling their "possibility bucket." Studies show our personal and professional vision fades over time (about 45 days). A leader's job is to help keep that bucket full, sharing their vision for others.

Remind people of their goals and pursuits. Remind them of their incredible value and potential. People often go further than they think they can when someone else believes in them. Ask yourself, "what's special, unique and wonderful about each person on my team?" Remind them of their strengths and encourage them with high expectations - they'll rise to your words of greatness. 

4. Put celebrations on the calendar - When was the last time you celebrated? It doesn't have to be a big event. Even small spontaneous lunches or team victory gatherings. Rewards matter. Remember mom's wise words: "If you eat your vegetables, you'll get dessert."Most of us work hard for a reward we desire. It's important to give people reasons to get good work done; and then reward it and celebrate!

Manager's Tip - How to identify motivated people:

  • They have a positive attitude
  • They can articulate specific goals in their personal and professional life
  • They have a strong personal drive
  • They are resilient and bounce back from failure
  • They have a proven track record of success

This week: Set the example with a positive attitude - practice high touch - fill other's bucket with vision - and remember rewards are motivating. Enjoy building a team that is motivated and excellent at what they do!



For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at: or call: (425) 681-9871.

The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance.