Motivational leadership is a real gift to society. Leaders who embrace motivational skills can boost morale, improve relationships, increase productivity, and cultivate more positive cultures across the board. 

Jump to:

A motivational leader speaking at a microphone.

Styles of Motivational Leadership

There are numerous styles of motivational leadership, including:

  • Transformational: Leading by example, creating a compelling vision, and engaging in intellectual stimulation and individual consideration.
  • Transactional: Using a system of rewards and sanctions to motivate others.
  • Supportive: Putting team members’ wellbeing and growth above all else, and offering emotional support. 
  • Authentic: Leading with sincerity and integrity, motivating others to follow on.
  • Charismatic: Using a strongly magnetic personality to draw people into a shared vision.
  • Situational: Adapting to the specific needs and maturity of team members.
  • Goal-Oriented: Setting specific, challenging, and realistically achievable goals that motivate individuals to perform at a higher level. 
  • Laissez-Faire: Giving (usually experienced and self-motivated teams) a high degree of autonomy and freedom to make decisions and carry out tasks. 
  • Coaching: Providing guidance, feedback, and support to help individuals grow and excel.

Motivated people waste less time and focus more effectively, and also tend to engage better with other people around them. They tend to remain satisfied for longer too, and are more likely to innovate and think creatively. Instilling motivation is therefore not only a benefit to the leader of a group; it also improves the lives of those who are being led. Motivational leadership leads to self-motivation, which is good for everyone.

Self Motivation

There are two types of self-motivation:

  • Intrinsic - this is motivation from an internal source, such as the sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done.
  • Extrinsic - this is motivation from an external source, such as the desire to keep performing after you’ve received praise or a reward. 

Both types of self-motivation are valid, but the ability to create high levels of intrinsic motivation in team members is what separates good leaders from great leaders. 

Motivated leaders inspire others because they model the qualities that they expect from others. Managers are followed because it’s a requirement; leaders are followed because the people around them find them to be inspiring! 

Motivational Leadership Skills

As we’ve said, there are numerous styles of motivational leadership, but there’s a common “core” of skills that are shared between the styles. These skills include:

  • Empathy - the ability to relate to someone else’s emotions, empathy tends to build relationships that will, in turn, inspire others to be more motivated. Asking questions, engaging in informal conversations, acknowledging personal events in the lives of others, trying to create ergonomic workspaces, and offering voluntary wellness activities are all great ways to show empathy.
  • Positivity - the ability to find the good in a situation, and view challenges as opportunities for teaching, is a powerful one. This doesn’t mean that you have to resort to false positivity, but instead means that you should encourage others even while they face obstacles and celebrate successes. Try your best to make use of optimistic language when you’re discussing setbacks too.
  • Integrity - trust is more easily won by people who have a high level of integrity. People who have a trustworthy leader are more likely to engage with their tasks meaningfully. Inversely, if people see their leader as hypocritical or half-hearted, they’ll be less likely to adopt positive values themselves.
  • Consistency - always value other people’s time and efforts. Model punctuality and always give plenty of notice about changes. Offer consistent support when it’s needed, and reliably show that you value those around you. Show others that you work invariably hard, and they’ll be inspired to be similarly diligent.
  • Set Goals - set, track, and celebrate goals. These might be as simple as using dates and deadlines, or as refined as group and personal performance goals. Whether you use public trackers or methods of private recognition will depend upon the people you’re leading (people tend to have different preferences), but celebrating goals is always a great source of motivation. Many leaders use the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, achievable, and time-bound) framework to set goals and break larger ambitions into small steps.
  • Give Feedback - setting goals requires a regular evaluation system, and that means opportunities to provide feedback. Clear, concise, and constructive feedback (i.e. feedback that’s as actionable as possible) will help your team members to improve, and is a vital thing for any motivational leader to offer.
  • Team Building - plan team-building activities and events. It’s always best if people participate on a voluntary basis, but connecting the members of your team usually leads them to work together more effectively. You don’t have to stick to conventional team building either; sometimes, a celebratory party in honour of someone’s success can work just as well.
  • Connection - most people work best when they know that the task they’re doing is meaningful. Make sure that you connect the work that your team members do to a bigger purpose, illustrating the impact of their work with (if possible) specific examples and storytelling.
  • Humility - motivational leaders understand their limitations. The sight of a leader working to overcome their weaknesses (e.g. scheduling check-ins with team members if they know they get lost in their own workload) and who has a drive to develop themselves and their team is inspiring. A self-aware leader who’s curious to improve is a good role model to follow and is someone who’s likely to inspire continuous self-development and a questioning mindset.
  • Delegate - some leaders struggle to delegate, but when you don’t you’re actually suggesting that you don’t trust your team members to do as good a job as you! Assigning people tasks gives them not only ownership, autonomy, and a sense of responsibility - which can easily motivate them - but also shows that you respect their abilities to carry out the necessary work.
  • Practice! - you’ll have to put into practice some or all of the above ideas to really brush up your motivational leadership skills, but there’s also scope to practice a wide variety of other useful communication skills:
    • Practice speaking. Rehearse your speaking before you address your team, and speak clearly and confidently. Some leaders choose to engage in public speaking as a way to hone their communication skills.
    • Use non-verbal communication. Make sure you smile, nod, keep eye contact, and use positive body language when you’re being addressed.
    • Listen actively. As well as employing non-verbal communication while you’re listening, ask questions to show that you fully understand what your team members are saying. 

All motivational leaders have a style, and the very best will adapt their methods to suit their target audience and the personalities within it, but there are some tried and tested blueprints that are likely to remain applicable many years after your journey into the realms of motivational leadership begins:  

  1. Take the time to find out the preferences and personalities of your team.
  2. Create motivational strategies that are appropriate for this group.
  3. Set expectations at the same time as you make it clear how they can be met.
  4. Convey all benefits or sanctions that relate to expectations being met/unmet.
  5. Share and celebrate all progress, providing rewards where necessary.
  6. Never issue a sanction without warning a team member that one is coming. 
  7. Address any obstacles that are hindering success. 
  8. Encourage consistently open communication.
  9. Seek out constructive feedback and accept it with gratitude.

It’s the role of a truly motivational leader to think about the bigger picture and help others shine in their roles. If you’d like to find out more about team leadership and motivation techniques, then our Team Leadership and Motivation Diploma Course is a fantastic resource. Available now for just £29 (save £118!), it provides all the tools and information that you’ll need to follow in the footsteps of the great leaders that have gone before you, whilst also allowing you to rise to challenges in your own way.

Inspiration just for you!

To try some of our most popular courses for free, enter your
email and we'll send you some samples of our favourites.

Image of person of color holding a large envelope


There are no comments yet.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to submit a comment.