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How to Motivate Your Team

By: Ken Austin

The challenge of motivating a team is in direct proportion to how much the team is being forced to act by leaders, rather than being given autonomy and power to direct its own actions.

Leaders who limit the opportunities for subordinates to learn and act on their own want undisputed control. That control is seen as a way to create job security for the leader.

Unfortunately, such control will make it difficult to recognize talented employees and limit the productivity and effectiveness of any team. People who only give orders inspire no one. People who only take orders learn nothing.

To make a truly effective team in today’s world means constant learning and sharing of knowledge. The old model of classroom instruction is often too little, too late. A team that can act independently and learn from each other is far more valuable to a company’s bottom line. Ideally, each team member should have the opportunity to choose to participate in a given team. That is not always possible.

There are six factors that can increase the effectiveness of any team:


A sense of purpose or mission that is in line with the needs and wants of the individuals in a team creates the self-motivation a good leader wants to encourage. Actual challenges in the workplace are infrequent, unless leaders take the step of creating appropriate challenges that are neither too simple nor too difficult.

Camaraderie, or fellowship, means that team members actually connect as people, beyond the job to be performed. What if team members don’t like each other? Overcoming personal dislikes can be helped by simple solutions like off-site activities that encourage playing together with team members.

Being given responsibility is a proven way of stimulating motivation. Along with responsibility, the authority to make necessary changes without fear of being punished for making mistakes can help to maintain motivation over a long period of time. Responsibility can have a negative impact if failure or error mean punishment or negative consequences.

Growth of the individual and team, through learning, moving forward, increasing capabilities and adding skills can provide long-term motivation. Personal growth can become an asset that the whole team can share. Both personal and team growths enhance each other and provide a foundation for high motivation.

Charismatic leadership can inspire a team to accomplish major goals on a short-term basis. Great leadership makes use of the above 5 elements to create the self-motivation for long-term team motivation.

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