Leadership Motivation Tools

Increase Your Motivation to Lead

Leadership Motivation Tools - Increase Your Motivation to Lead

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Boost your motivation!

In our Leadership Motivation Assessment we gave you a tool for assessing your motivation to lead.

So, what if you want to become more of a leader, but you're finding it difficult to get yourself going? The tools in this article will help. First we look at the "Demotivation Demolisher," next we look at the "Need-Effort Bridge" and finally we look at "Passion Propulsion."

Demotivation Demolisher – Kill the Killjoy

The first step in building motivation is to identify what demotivates you and then tackle the problem head on.

Here we're looking at demotivation on two levels. On one level, we're looking at the fundamental motivation to lead, as we discussed in our previous article. At a second level, we look at the day-to-day irritations that frustrate you and distract you from doing a good job.

When we asked you to complete the Leadership Motivation Assessment, we were asking you whether, deep down, you want the responsibility as well as the rewards of leadership. Some of the benefits of leadership are obvious. But what if you find that something is holding you back? What if you find that, when you look within yourself, you're not that sure that you want to lead a team? Have a read of this case study.

Marcus Jackson wasn't happy. He had just been promoted to lead a product development team in a different department of the engineering company at which he worked.

He felt that he had been promoted because of his expertise and the quality of his work. And he was proud that he'd been chosen.

However, he felt profoundly uncomfortable in his new role: he was confused about what was expected from him, he had had little experience of leadership before, and he felt out of his depth in dealing with the people issues he was now expected to handle. What was worse was that he instinctively felt that the team was expecting things of him that he didn't know how to give. All in all, he was questioning whether he'd made the right move, and whether he should return to his previous job.

Fortunately, Marcus had enough insight to recognize the importance of these issues, and to identify the detailed issues he was experiencing. And when he listed the points out, it all became clear: what he needed was training in basic supervisory skills, and help in applying them.

So, he approached his boss and put a persuasive case for a particular training course. And he also made sure that he got regular coaching on the issues he faced, which helped put the theory he learned into practice. Now he's ready to face his new responsibilities.

The second level of demotivation comes from the day-to-day irritations that distract you from doing a good job. Consider the case of Susan Mitchell, outlined below:

Susan, a marketing executive, had just joined a new firm. She had set a target for herself – within a year she would take over as the team leader. She knew she had the capability and was prepared to work hard enough.

At first, this confident and able woman was the first to volunteer for any new assignment and she often worked late hours. But a couple of months later, she started losing steam. She was distracted, would tire easily and somehow just couldn't come up with any more great ideas.

Susan knew she would fail in her ambition if things went on this way, so she made a conscious decision to tackle the problem. First she acknowledged that she had lost motivation. Then she tried to analyze why. She came up with three reasons – uncooperative team members; boredom; and her office being positioned bang next to the kitchen.

Susan figured she could tackle at least one problem immediately – the office placement. She asked the boss for a move to another office space and got it. The other two issues she is still grappling with. But at least she knows they exist and is consciously working on fixing them, so her motivation is rising again.

If you too suffer from either of these issues of motivation, take a leaf out of these two professionals' book.

First set aside 15 minutes to note down the things that steal your motivation, whether these are things that undermine your motivation to lead, or are general irritants that are undermining your self-motivation. You can draw up a table – like the one shown below – and list them under the Demotivator column:

Demotivator Circumstantial or Habitual? Solution

Done with the list? Now you are ready to take on the challenge of tackling the killjoys.

Start by considering whether the 'demotivation attacks' are occasional, circumstantial things, triggered by circumstantial factors (the visit of a difficult client; or being under the weather), or are they habitual, typifying your working style (leaving tasks unfinished; or saying yes to everything irrespective of whether you can do it). Mark the cause, circumstantial or habitual, in your table.

Next comes the solution column. If circumstantial factors bother you, then get a grip on exactly what is it that "switches you off" and try to neutralize the cause. For Susan, it was being next to the kitchen. She just didn't feel like working and was distracted by who was having how many cups of coffee. Once the demotivator was identified, she pushed her boss to allot her another workspace, and her work improved. You may not be able to fix your problem immediately, but at least write down the solution.

However, if the demotivator is a recurring habit, you have to acknowledge it as a serious issue, which may undermine all the good work you want to accomplish. You need to make concerted effort to bring motivation and passion to the activity. Our next tools will show you how to achieve this. Zero in on the correct tools and list them in your solutions column.


One of the key figures in the development of the theory of motivation was Frederick Herzberg, who closely studied the sources of employee motivation in the 1950s and 1960s. What he discovered was that the things that demotivate people are different from the things that motivate them.

Herzberg’s “Hygiene Factors” (the things that made people unhappy and demotivated) were obstructive company policy, unhelpful administration, intrusive supervision, bad working relationships, poor conditions, uncompetitive salaries, low status and job insecurity.

And just as these things demotivated the people who Herzberg studied, they may be the things that demotivate you. Take them seriously!

The Need-Effort Bridge – Link Action to Motive

Establishing a clear motive for the actions you undertake is one of the best ways to create motivation. Remember the old "What's In It For Me" principle? You can apply it to yourself to create motivation. Once you have figured out that the effort you make fulfills a need that you have, the effort will automatically become much more worthwhile.

The need-effort bridge can work at several levels.

At the very basic level, you make an effort at your job because it fetches you money and helps you fulfill your material needs. At another level, you make an effort at your job because you feel that by performing it well, you are helping your company achieve a better goal and this makes you feel good about yourself.


Remember Frederick Herzberg from above? The things that he discovered motivated people weren't just the opposite of what demotivated people. Instead, Herzberg's motivators were achievement; recognition for that achievement; an enjoyable job; responsibility; growth; and advancement.

Now, Herzberg didn't particularly believe in the power of money as a motivator. Whether you do or not depends on the way you think (and may be cultural) so pick the motivators that most motivate you!

Now, let us go back to the demotivator lists that you drew up earlier. Let us say that, after identifying the demotivators, you realize that you can't do anything much about most of them. Then it is time to figure out why you are putting up with these demotivators. Is it because you have established a very strong, meaningful need for your effort, or is it inertia?

If you are not sure about the answer, try the following exercise.

Need-Effort Establishment Exercise

Take a piece of paper and divide it in two. Head up one half "Needs" and the other "Effort."

List the needs you have – these could be anything from owning a new BMW to finding spiritual balance. Material rewards, professional standards, or personal targets are good thinking points to identify your needs.

Next, list the efforts you are making – on your job, in your community, or whatever.

Then link the effort to the need it serves. For instance, the effort you are making on the new job could link up to the need for buying the car. Hopefully the extra effort will translate into a bonus, which would serve as the down payment.

Just remember that the more meaningful the need you are seeking to satisfy, the more motivated you will feel.

Hopefully, after conducting the exercise, you can find strong motivation to justify your efforts. You may have to spend energy grappling with the killjoys, but you know the effort is worth it.

However, if you cannot find this motivation, then maybe it is time you contemplated channeling your efforts in a different direction. What should this different direction be? Our next tool, Passion Propulsion, helps you arrive at an answer to this question.

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Passion Propulsion – Find Your passion. Use It to Inspire and Enthuse.

"Nothing great is ever achieved without passion."– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Passion is a great motivator. It is what gives the ultimate meaning to your actions. Being fiercely passionate about goals and targets helps give you an edge and helps you inch closer to your leadership position.

However, passion has to be handled with precision. You don't want to fritter away the energy it gives you. A much better idea would be to identify it and then use it with laser sharp focus to achieve your goals. This tool helps you do this. It operates at two levels: firstly, it helps you identify goals that you are passionate about; and secondly, it shows you how to direct your passion energy.

Step 1 – Define Your passion

What "fires you up?" For some people the answer to this question is very obvious. For others, it is a little more difficult.

If you are facing difficulty giving a definite answer, set aside 30 minutes to answer three questions:

  • What would I want my life to be like when I am 60?
  • What do I want to have accomplished 5 years from now?
  • What are the three things I would want to do if I only had 6 months to live?

Each question will have several answers. Choose the top three answers for each question.

Now, out of the nine goals you have identified, select the three that look most important to you. You should naturally be passionate about achieving them: if not, you may need to set goals that are on a grander or more beneficial scale!

Step 2 – Harness Passion Energy

Once you have set inspirational goals, work out what you need to do to achieve them.

Identify the key information and training you need to achieve them effectively, and think through the tools you'll need, and the people you'll need support from, on your way.

Make a professional, rational, well-thought-through plan. And then use it to turn your goals into reality.


For more information, go to our goal setting page.


Click on the thumbnail image below to see Leadership Motivation Tools represented in an infographic:

Demolish Demotivation Infographic


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