Inspiring Leadership Motivates People

By Dr. Mary Kay

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Great leaders use inspiring leadership principles and believe that their employees determine a company’s success or failure.

It is not the size of the building, how cool the product is, or even having the best equipment or process that determines success. What propels and sustains a successful organization is its diverse team of talented, motivated employees.

Inspiring leaders continually invest in their people and understand motivational rewards for employees. Below are some brief tips on how to increase employee motivation.

People Want to Contribute

Every child, regardless of background, age, or gender, dreams about what they want to do when they grow up. Whether that dream is to be a fireman, a teacher, an artist, or a doctor, we all decide on a career path and strive to learn more about what we are interested in.

For many, a career choice requires hours of learning and financial hardship to obtain the education that is required to become employed.

It is the employee’s passion, knowledge, and interest that create their desire to contribute. Employees want to use what they have learned, which in turn motivates them to do their best.

Involvement Activities

Motivation is associated with high levels of employee involvement. High-involvement activities include:

  • decision-making
  • sharing information
  • informal leadership assignments
  • opportunities for increasing job responsibilities
  • a chance to use education/innate talents

When employees are not provided with high-involvement opportunities, the rate of voluntary turnover increases, and other employees stay but stop caring. Here is something to ponder: The level of employee motivation is directly related to the quality of life at work, which is directly associated with inspiring leadership effectiveness. This is a very powerful thought!

Employees feel a lack of contribution when they are not involved in decision-making. Being left out of team decisions or decisions that impact their job indicates to employees that their expertise is not valued. When situations such as these take place, employees become unmotivated.

They feel their knowledge and expertise are unimportant, and the organization does not need their contributions. Being “in on things” is a motivator, as it signifies the leadership team views their expertise as a necessity for running the business.

Having a two-way conversation is another way to increase employee motivation by asking for input and involving an employee in decision-making.

The “old school” way when providing direction or announcing a change is for the manager to do most of the talking. This managerial tactic is a “pushing” method of communication and facilitates a minimal amount of interaction on the part of the employee.

In contrast, to tell, an effective leader will ask for suggestions and recommendations as to how the employee envisions the change. This approach is a “pulling” method, where the dialogue involves both manager and employee participating in an effective exchange of ideas, thoughts, and expertise.

High involvement in the conversation provides the manager with feedback and the employee with a feeling of satisfaction that his or her input is valued.

What Gets Rewarded Gets Done

It is not new knowledge that people will leave a job where they feel they are not valued. In some cases, the disgruntled employee will leave a stable job for a lesser-paying one or even for no job at all. The reward of appreciation and being valued is that important.

Regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, people are motivated to do their best, stay long hours, and give more than they take for those leaders who value their contribution. This reality reveals the power and magnitude that an intangible reward like appreciation provides to employees. If an employee does not feel appreciated, he or she will be physically or mentally absent.

Rewards That Make a Big Difference

Intangible rewards include opportunities to help others informally lead. If an employee does not feel that they add value to the growth of the company, they become frustrated and stagnant.

People have a need to achieve, develop, and grow. Leaders who value their employees communicate how important they are to the business by taking the time to tell them.

Employees never go home from work feeling as if they are too appreciated. No one communicates at the dinner table that he or she was appreciated too much at work today. Appreciation is vital to employee motivation.

Employees seek tangible rewards of compensation, promotions, training, and improvements to their work environment as concrete, measurable forms that are valued. It is the leader that understands these elements of motivation that attracts employees to come to work for them.

Tangible rewards are highly effective when aligned with the predictors of what you want when seeking employment: 1) fairness, 2) accountability, and 3) opportunity.

Accountability is a Big Motivator

Employees expect to be compensated fairly, and those employees that are not adequately performing their job responsibilities need to be held accountable. Here is an example of what can really demotivate employees: One employee is effectively doing his job while another employee is not.

The effective employee is learning inspiring leadership skills, seeking opportunities for growth, and working as a team member. The ineffective employee has little motivation to work with other employees, inconsistently meets performance expectations, and has been operating in this manner for quite some time.

The difference between these two employees is very visible and hugely impacts employee motivation. In this case, the leader’s effectiveness truly makes a difference in employee morale!

Employees would like to do what they have been trained to do and participate in meaningful work experiences. As simple as this may sound, employees feel a high level of motivation when their job provides an opportunity to use their areas of expertise and the leader uses appropriate methods of motivation. It is not uncommon that employers are unaware of the intrinsic talents and skills an employee may hold.

Next time the opportunity arises, ask your employees to list their professional interests, talents, and skills. The takeaway – be familiar with the talents, education, and skills that employees have acquired and align those skills with daily work assignments.

How Does Inspiring Leadership Motivate People?

If you have ideas about inspiring leadership that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and co-founder of the About Leaders community. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained thousands of leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Success course helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Stephen B. Carman says:

    Nice article. I would add the strengths movement that Marcus Buckingham (@mwbuckingham) has contributed to is another component.

    When individuals are working from their strength, motivation moves from external to internal sources.

  • Gorripaty Ramprasad says:

    I liked it and it is very good article to read and to review the motivation values.In general in some of the companies or organization,forget to implement strategies that motivates staff to increase their efficiency, especially when companies are not doing good or going down. In spite of getting closer with employees and trying to implement to motivate to boost up their energy, employer start searching for a consultant to review the situation which will cost heavily to the company and delays the processes of revival and brings everything down. Motivation is very important tool to energies the employees and also it helps the company to increase the trust that improves the turnover healthy. Because of the article, I have once again learned as a reminder to implement whenever the situation arises. Thanks to Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker for writing such a good article.

    With Regards, Gorripaty Ramprasad,

  • Gorripaty,

    Thanks so much for your response to this article. Your comment reflects what occurs in the organization when motivation is left out of daily, leadership practices. You mention that “instead of getting closer to employees” managers will take the opposite approach and look for an external resource. Thanks so much for making this point and your support of this topic.

    All the best,

    Mary Kay

  • Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker says:


    Yes, I agree that focusing on employee strengths creates a transition from external methods of motivation to internal, passion and drive that is sustainable. Great point to add to what great leaders do to motivate people.


    Mary Kay

  • M.S.Kannan says:

    Like Minded contribute to the community not awaiting Rewards. So Do i to reward the Excellent article to be appreciated atleast/Sure rewards are on when you practice this itself

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