Action Catalyst Blog

How to Motivate Your Team Long Term


One of the great challenges for any leader is motivating his or her team.

That’s what being a leader is: It’s motivating other people to take action, achieve and accomplish.

There’s something I haven’t really understood and haven’t had 100% clarity on until recently.

I learned that motivation is an external concept.

Motivation is something you offer people. Or it’s something external like money that motivates people.

When you motivate someone, it’s often about what you do for or to them. We give carrots and sticks.

Carrots are contests: incentives, prizes, recognition and trophies. They’re raises or bonuses.

There’s also sticks – those are the consequences or penalties leaders use if employees don’t meet their accountability goals.

Typically when we think about motivating people, we’re trained to use carrots and sticks – and there’s nothing wrong with those.

At Southwestern Consulting, we use these. We just had a huge annual awards banquet for our coaching business.

We also use sticks in our performance recovery plans, which are the consequences of people not getting things done the right way.

Long term, a leader’s job is motivation, which is external, but it’s also inspiration, which is internal.

Inspiration is about accessing somebody’s purpose and joy, and their reason for being. It’s connecting their desire and passion in life to their job.

Southwestern Consulting exists to help people achieve their goals in life. That’s more of the inspirational part.

Remember, money and awards are good; just know they’re more motivation than inspiration.

As a leader, in the long term you don’t want to only motivate people with carrots and sticks.

Inspire them with purpose and mission.

How do you do that?

It’s an art and it can be challenging.

What you want to do is spend time with your people and figure out what they really care about and what fires them up.

Figure out what they think their life purpose is, and how you can connect their job role and daily behaviors to that purpose.

Now you’ve really created magic because you’ve created inspiration.

Your team feels connected to how what you’re asking them to do forwards them toward achieving their own life purpose.

That’s a real gift to give.

I hope you can find a way – in addition to using carrots and sticks – to also using purpose and mission to inspire your team.

And I invite you to request a free call today to talk with one of our coaches to get advice on growing and motivating your team.

One Response

  1. This was fabulous! It’s exactly what I’m focusing on with my team right now. How do I help them to become more intrinsically motivated? To find their reason, their passion and how their business can help them reach those goals. You’re the best!

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