Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Leaders Have Three Motivational Tools Available to Them

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A challenge leaders face is how to effectively motivate their people and keep personal performance standards high, work assignments stimulating, and directional efforts on course. Leaders need to have several techniques at their fingertips to maintain momentum while moving positively forward.

Leaders make concentrated efforts to motivate employees by encouraging them to develop and grow in their work. Emotional resistance is eliminated when the right motivational techniques are used consistently.

Three vital motivational tools that work effectively in most situations are reassuring, challenging and empathizing. When leaders apply these motivational tools they have better success in improving employee performance, stimulating workplace creativity and reducing individual anxiety.

In order to offer greater tangible benefits to employees and have them produce effective outcomes leaders can motivate by reassuring, challenging and empathizing. These motivational techniques make individuals feel better about their personal worth, challenge them to participate fully, and align tasks and goals with individual needs and desires. Building techniques around these include:

Motivational Reassuring

This motivational technique is effective for helping employees cope with workplace stress and challenges. The key is to motivate by using specific positive actions and verbal support.

  • Leaders focus on motivating by “cheerleading” employees onward in a supportive role. The main goal is to build commitment through influencing them to participate fully. This reduces worry and stress that they will not be able to perform properly or to the leader’s expectations. This is accomplished in part through suggesting ways to make tasks and assignments easier and offering shortcuts to eliminate frustrations.
  • Leaders find a good motivational technique is to let employees know that a certain amount of stress is beneficial because it helps optimize productivity. With that in mind, they disclose all details of what is going to happen to each person involved in a task, project or outcome as much as is predictable. Encouraging employees in their efforts as they move one small step at a time is essential. Positive statements about small successful accomplishments work well to overcome personal insecurity.
  • Another good motivational technique is to help employees recharge physically and emotionally. This can be accomplished by easing up on their workload occasionally, or by offering “perks” when and where a leader feels it is appropriate. The idea is to move the individual’s energy level away from work so renewed bursts of energy can take place.

Motivational Challenging

Motivational challenging works effectively to reduce complacency. Challenging allows employees to be less focused on their own personal wants and problems and more focused on the priorities of the workplace. Motivational techniques need to be focused on the following:

  • Overcoming an employee’s insecurity level in a positive manner is a challenge for many leaders. This can best be accomplished by creating both positive and negative outcomes directly related to individual performance. Leaders find linking performance targets to bonuses or to other intrinsic rewards works well.
  • Effective leaders know that challenging employees sometimes requires motivating by applying “tough love.” They motivate by not allowing themselves to shelter the people under their direction from reality. One technique to keep employees motivated is to engineer a crisis by allowing employee apathy to lead to a fall, rather than protecting them from negative consequences. Experience can become one of the most powerful motivators.
  • One powerful motivator to challenge employees and get them more involved is through the sharing of information on situations, new procedures and changes that are occurring in the workplace. Leaders understand not sharing important information regarding decisions and changes hinders employees and forces them to function in a negative, reactive state. A leader’s goal is to maintain a proactive workplace climate.

Motivational Empathy

This technique is based upon listening to an employee’s side of an issue, sharing viewpoints, and providing positive interaction. Leaders must first understand how employees feel. Motivational empathy techniques are effective to build commitment. Leaders align goals and objectives with specific needs and concerns.

  • Leaders must win the confidence and trust of the people under them. In order to motivate, leaders need to fully understand their employees. This involves gaining an understanding of their perspectives on problems, fears, beliefs and workplace situations. Leaders can then develop strategies to motivate in a positive way to overcome resistance, which then develops a feeling of trust and security within their followers.
  • Listening is a very effective way to motivate. Not disputing views or perceptions builds higher levels of encouragement. There are times when leading people means walking or working alongside them while saying nothing. Listening allows time to observe and develop strategies to help increase confidence and productivity. To motivate effectively, it is important not to overwhelm employees with a leader’s personal power, control and confidence. Listening does this.
  • Sharing quality time with employees is essential to motivate effectively. This includes personal interaction time in order to discuss and share feelings that are important to the employee. Leaders also find it motivational to share their personal feelings. Taking quality time to exhibit kindness, openness, compassion and genuine concern holds more power to motivate than many other techniques combined.


Does Compassion and Empathy Have a Role in Leadership?

When Motivating Employees, Expectations Are Everything

16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes

Excerpt: Leadership Roles & Responsibilities: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Leaders Succeed When Their Employees Are Successful

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Aiding employees in achieving their personal goals and feeling important and successful within the organization requires good interactive leadership practices. Effective leaders consider helping their employees to be successful an exciting, worthwhile pursuit. When employees are successful, so are leaders.

Helping employees succeed is essential to keeping work units, projects and the entire organization running smoothly and on course. It is not unlike an environment where employees are novice pioneers, dependent upon leaders to guide the wagon train through the chaotic and ever-changing organizational wilderness into “the promised land.”

Achieving and attaining the “unordinary” is the major force behind moving individuals ahead, as it instills a sense of organizational worth and the attainment of incremental successes. In moving employees forward leaders must continually build and instill a desire and commitment to persevere, while continually looking toward the horizon rather than backward.

If leaders fail in their responsibility to harness the best they and their employees can give, all actions get caught up in trivial, daily routines and procedures, problems and issues. Concentrating on the “ordinary” militates against successful achievement and accomplishment.

Individual and cooperative encouragement is the means to goal attainment that is “beyond the ordinary.” An interactive leader’s experience, insight and carefully applied strategies avoid many of the overwhelming barriers and frustrations that wait in hiding. These are vital to eliminate because they can automatically dampen an employee’s spirit and the desire to continue onward toward the achievement of success.

In order to help their employees succeed, leaders employ specific strategies to reinforce motivation, determination and perseverance. These include:

Use New Assignments to Test Individual and Cooperative Limits

It is a leader’s responsibility to remain alert for ways to improve their work unit’s productivity and the organization itself. This depends on giving full support to their employees; they are the ones possessing the skills and manpower required to make improvements a reality.

There is no better way to achieve success than by openly testing individual and workgroup limits. Isolating a difficult job situation and placing employees or groups directly into it provides leaders a revealing gauge of their capabilities. It is also an effective way to overcome a negative problem or situation plaguing the unit or organization.

Once accomplished, it instills a feeling of success, self-worth, and the desire to tackle other challenging projects and assignments. The group/individuals begin to realize they can “accomplish the nearly impossible” by merely challenging, pushing and extending their limits. Consistent encouragement is given during the entire interactive process to see the challenge through.

A leader’s active support during this process is used to encourage his or her people and instill a sense of adventure into the assignment. This is key to making any challenge more enjoyable and successful. Without developing a pioneer spirit of determination and fortitude to surmount the challenges new assignments present, existing fears and uncertainty become an overwhelming obstacle. “Going where no one has gone before” and getting there with whatever it takes is a stimulating way for leaders and their employees to approach each new assignment.

Related: Six Steps to Educate Employees About Delegated Tasks and Assignments

Consistently Question the Status Quo

Facilitating their employees’ success requires that a leader continually urge them to challenge certain processes and offer suggestions on how unproductive efforts or inefficiencies can be improved upon. In order to accomplish this, they list all current work practices within their unit or organization. These must be firmly established and in the category of “the way it’s always been done.” Once the list is compiled they turn it over to their employees and ask, “How useful is each practice for doing the best we can?”

This interactive technique generates creativity and innovation among employees because they are empowered to determine whether or not a particular process or way of performing tasks or assignments is efficient or essential. The critical part of the procedure is to carefully analyze and evaluate the impact of each process and form or structure of task assignment to determine whether any should be kept in place, altered or eliminated.

If certain procedures are selected for modification or possible elimination, the challenge is to find a way to change it. (Policies critical to productivity and quality assurance cannot be challenged and are out of bounds for analyzing and assessing.) Success comes when employees are able to eliminate generally useless rules and needless routines that only hinder their abilities, performance and jobs.

Related: Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Break Free of the Routine

Nothing stymies success more than becoming robots of routine. Comfort zones are the greatest inhibitors of thinking, creativity and innovation, which are indispensable to success.

To help free employees of their comfort zones leaders can use the following exercise. Have employees make a complete list of their daily habits, activities and routines. Ask them to respond to the question, “Which of these improve my feeling of self-worth and my efforts in the unit and organization, and which do not?”

Have them circle the “helping” activities and place a check mark next to those that are “hindering.” If they have a difficult time determining whether they actually want to eliminate some of the hindrances they should be told to ask themselves, “If I keep on with this particular habit, activity or routine, what is the worst that can happen?” After responding, employees should ask the question positively, “What is the best thing that can happen to me if I eliminate this particular hindrance?”

Finally, employees ask, “How successful will I feel knowing that I can overcome something that hinders me? How will it improve my outlook to know I have control over things that prevent me from moving ahead?”

In supporting employees in their efforts to overcome hindering practices and habits, success can be brought about in incremental steps with minimal amounts of effort. The goal is to displace useless habits deeply entrenched in comfort zones with more productive ones. Leaders and employees will both find that the growth pains are clearly worth the gain in creativity, innovation, overall personal productivity and job satisfaction.

Related: Formulating Questions as a Source of Continuous Improvement

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

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