• Mark Topley

Why you need to stop trying to motivate your team

It’s January, and so thoughts turn from turkey and mince pies to weight loss and New Year’s resolutions. And if you lead a team, one of your resolutions may well be to motivate your people more effectively in 2020.

But I’d like you to stop, and focus instead on something far more powerful and sustainable – inspiring your team.

Stop motivating

Motivation is important, and there are times when I need to motivate myself – to get to the gym, to sit down and write a blog post, to walk the dog when it’s been hammering down with rain all night and my bed is warm and cosy. Motivation is almost always trying to psych myself up to do something that I don’t want to do, but I know that I should. Since facts don’t change behaviour (after all, how many patients know they ‘should’ floss, but still don’t?), and since I’m never going to feel like it, I need something else – I need inspiration.

Motivation is almost always trying to psych myself up to do something that I don’t want to do, but I know that I should.

Make 2020 the year you become a more inspirational leader

Inspiration is something else entirely. The word ‘inspire’ comes from the root of creating a positive feeling INSIDE someone. It calls to something deeper, more intrinsic than external motivation can ever be – it evokes emotional responses – and that’s powerful.

Employees who work for an inspirational leader are enthused, encouraged, energised, motivated, engaged, and appreciated. They believe that what they do matters, that they’re making a difference. It’s also an area where many leaders have of room to improve.

How do you become a more inspirational leader?

First things first – you don’t need to be a confident motivational speaker to be an inspiring leader. Talks are just one tool that leaders use, they’re not the most common, and on their own, they’re certainly not the most effective. Like all leadership traits, inspiring others is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned.

Research by the Bain Company on what makes an inspirational leader is fascinating – and well worth a read.

The traits of inspirational leaders that the Bain Company identify include many that you will be familiar with –

  1. positive emotional expression

  2. positive attitude

  3. giving clear direction

  4. listening

  5. appreciating your team

  6. humility

Although they identified 33 different traits that make up an inspiring leader, take heart – the development and consistent application of just 1 or 2 were enough to inspire people.

The one quality that trumps everything else?


It’s leading from a place of knowing who you are, of being driven by your values and purpose, not trying to prove anything, but living from a state of assuredness.

CSR plays an important role in helping you use your inspirational strengths to help your team feel and believe they are a part of something bigger. My work with clients shows that embedding CSR at the heart of your business is powerful. This year can be the year that you see greater, more holistic results from inspiring your team rather than trying to use extrinsic motivation. And the possibility starts with you.

Next steps

Curious about what CSR is and how it can help you inspire your team? You can find out more about how to get started by downloading my free ’60 Minute CSR Plan’.

52 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All