How to Motivate Your Team As a Leader - 10 Strategies

Mark Talmage-Rostron
November 12, 2023 · 12 min read

They say that true leaders are born and not created. Forbes maintains that leadership can be taught and learned, but some people are more likely to learn or acquire the talent for leadership than others, because the predisposition to lead is significantly amplified by some qualities that are already manifested early in life, and on which there are stable and significant individual differences.

No matter what camp you find yourself in, what is an undeniable truth is that all great leaders share one trait and that is their ability to build trust amongst those that they lead so that everyone feels like they would want to rally behind them.

That said, leaders need to lay the ground work well before that ever happens to effectively motivate employees. A good leader should have passion, integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, social skills, and gratitude.

They should be learning agility and flex their influence while communicating and delegating effectively. Great leaders such as Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, and the greatest motivator, Nelson Mandela, had all of these motivational traits in spades, and look where it got them and their throngs of followers because of what it did for morale.

How To Motivate Your Team As A Leader - 10 Strategies

1. Understand the psychology behind employee motivation 

The great Tony Robbins maintains that there are two types of team motivation in the work environment: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation includes pay, benefits and in-office perks. Intrinsic motivation refers to the sense of accomplishment a person gets from completing a certain task or from their job overall. Extrinsic motivation is temporary. The best ways to motivate your team and make employees feel valued and do their best work, is by using intrinsic motivation, which tap into deeper needs.

2. Leverage the six human needs 

As a leader, understanding and leveraging the six human needs can be an effective way to motivate your team. These needs, according to Tony Robbins, are: certainty, variety, significance, connection/love, growth, and contribution. Here's how you can leverage them to motivate your team:


People have a need for stability and predictability. Provide your team with a clear vision, well-defined goals, and a sense of security in their roles. Communicate openly, be transparent about expectations, and provide regular feedback to create a sense of certainty.


Humans also have a need for excitement and variety. Encourage creativity and innovation within your team. Offer challenging assignments, allow for job rotation, or organize team-building activities that promote new experiences and learning opportunities.


People want to feel valued and important. Recognize and acknowledge your team's achievements and contributions regularly. Provide them with autonomy and involve them in decision-making processes, making them feel that their opinions matter.


Foster a sense of belonging and connection within your team. Encourage collaboration, create a positive work environment, and promote open communication. Organize team-building activities or social events to strengthen relationships and build a supportive team culture.


Support your team's personal and professional development. Provide opportunities for skill-building, offer training programs, and encourage continuous learning. Help your team members set and achieve meaningful goals that contribute to their growth and development.


Humans have a fundamental need to make a difference and contribute to something greater than themselves. Clearly communicate the purpose and impact of your team's work. Highlight how their efforts align with the organization's goals and values. Recognize and celebrate their contributions to create a sense of fulfillment.

Remember that each individual's needs may vary, so it's essential to have open conversations with your team members to understand their motivations and aspirations. By aligning their needs with their work, you can create a motivating environment that encourages productivity and engagement.

how to motivate team as leader

3. Examine your company culture 

Motivating your team as a leader starts with examining and shaping your company culture. Here are some steps you can take to motivate your team by focusing on company culture:

Define your values

Clearly define the core values that drive your organization. These values should reflect what your company stands for and what behaviors are expected from team members. Communicate these values to your team and ensure they are integrated into your day-to-day operations.

Lead by example

As a leader, your behavior sets the tone for the entire team. Demonstrate the values and behaviors you expect from your team members. Act with integrity, show empathy, and be accountable for your actions. Leading by example creates a culture of trust and inspires your team to follow suit.

Foster open communication

Establish a culture of open and transparent communication. Encourage your team members to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Actively listen to their input and involve them in decision-making processes. This inclusive approach makes employees feel valued and motivates them to contribute their best work.

Recognize and reward

Implement a recognition and reward system that acknowledges and appreciates your team members' efforts. Celebrate achievements, milestones, and successes both individually and as a team. Recognition can be in the form of verbal praise, public acknowledgment, rewards, or opportunities for growth and development.

Promote collaboration and teamwork

Encourage collaboration among team members by fostering a collaborative work environment. Break down silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration. Provide opportunities for team members to work together on projects, share knowledge, and support each other. Collaboration enhances motivation as it creates a sense of belonging and collective achievement.

Provide growth opportunities

Support the professional and personal growth of your team members. Offer training programs, mentorship, and coaching opportunities. Provide clear career paths and development plans. When employees see that their growth is supported and that there are opportunities for advancement within the company, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged.

Create a positive work environment

Foster a positive work environment that promotes well-being and work-life balance. Encourage a healthy work culture by offering flexible work arrangements, promoting work-life integration, and providing resources for stress management and employee well-being. A positive work environment boosts morale and motivation.

Remember, building and maintaining a motivating company culture requires ongoing effort and commitment. Regularly assess and adjust your practices to ensure they align with the needs and aspirations of your team members. By creating a culture that values and supports its employees, you will foster motivation and engagement among your team.

4. Know and share your vision

Learning how to inspire your team starts with learning that inspires you: You must discover your purpose before you can relate to others’ needs for fulfillment. What gets you to work every day? What is your ultimate goal for your business? Distill your purpose into a powerful vision statement and share it with your team. When everyone knows the deeper why behind going to work each day, leaders will be able to motivate their team effectively and give employees a clear-cut direction.

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5. Lead by example

Sharing your vision isn’t enough – you must live your purpose every day. Great leaders can keep employees motivated and employees engaged by embodying the traits they want to see in their team: hard work, dedication, loyalty and more. Ways to motivate employees include discovering your values and bringing them to the table at work. Admit when you’re wrong and learn from your mistakes. You’ll inspire your team to do the same. Remember that a happy team is a productive team.

6. Develop your self-awareness

Leading by example is a great start, but you can dig deeper to motivate your employees. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Develop your self-awareness and learn about your natural leadership style which can assist in leadership development. When you better understand yourself, you can develop your skills and become a well-rounded leader who can switch styles to inspire a team or an individual employee in any circumstance.

7. Master communication

Strong leadership means that the best leaders have found ways to excel at reading nonverbal cues and using mirroring and pacing techniques to exert influence. Leaders should also be able to adapt to different and effective communication styles to motivate their employees by ensuring that said employees are understood. They’re always empathetic and open to new views, and they know how to use deep listening to listen to the answers and implement solutions. Often feeling heard is enough for team inspiration and will help motivate them to be the best version of themselves and through their actions they might motivate others independently of you.

motivating team members as a business leader

8. Building rapport and trust

Building rapport and trust with your team members is essential for motivating them as a leader and this can be achieved by being you, meeting people halfway and being respectful to others. Creating those deeper connections is essential to intrinsic team motivation and is one of many ways to motivate a team. The benefits of authenticity go even further. When you’re transparent with your team, you’ll build trust in the workplace, earn respect, encourage productive work, and motivate people to excel. When your team respects you, they will be much more open to your suggestions and you'll find it easier to develop a productive work environment.

9. Use leverage

As a leader, leveraging certain strategies can help you motivate your team effectively. You can do this by; aligning goals with individual motivations, providing autonomy and decision-making power, offering rewards and incentives, providing growth opportunities, recognizing and applauding achievements, and fostering a positive and supportive environment.

Remember, effective motivation requires understanding your team members as individuals and leveraging strategies that resonate with them. Tailor your approach to their needs and preferences, and continuously assess and adapt your motivational strategies to ensure their effectiveness.

10. Give ownership

We’ve all been in situations where we've felt like we had no control. It’s the opposite of inspiring. Motivating a team means giving them total ownership of their tasks and can create a positive vibe. Empower your team by letting them collaborate and discuss ideas and opinions. One of the leadership tips is to let team members feel that they are empowered to take risks with unconventional tactics. Let them make big decisions – and feel consequences. A seat at the table inspires motivation.

Looking To Further Develop Your Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills are extremely important to excel in a career. However, other soft and hard skills are also needed.

Discover how you can acquire the most in-demand skills with our free report, and open the doors to a successful career. Download the free report today!

Why not also check out our leadership and organization development course, which will give you skills need to be confident in leadership within an organization!


Great leadership is arguably the most important part of a company and its ability to succeed. Without a rudder the ship will veer off course and you'll find it difficult to make your employees feel motivated. To help leaders become better leaders and hone their skills to ensure that employees feel valued, there are tons of online courses that can be undertaken. Leadership training can teach you the skills you need to lead effectively, including the often-tricky skills needed to persuade and influence people – even those over whom you have little direct authority. Leadership training widens thinking abilities to help leaders think in innovative and creative ways and make employees feel motivated and inspired.

Thinking of going on a leadership course but don't quite know where to start?

A great place would be to attend online courses at a university such as Nexford that allows you to learn at your own pace and fit studies into your busy schedule. Besides MBA and BBA programs, Nexford offers two courses to help good leaders to become great leaders. The Leadership Management and Teams course, focuses on how to create a personal and shared vision and communicate effectively with teams, as a leader, a manager and a team member. On the other hand, the Leadership and Organizational Development course, examines individual and group interaction and helps learners gain a deeper understanding of how human behavior drives organizational behavior and development.

Team motivation - Frequently asked questions


What is team motivation?

A motivated team is a team that gives its absolute best effort. It is a team that is characterized by many benefits, such as a high level of commitment, innovation, and energy in the workplace. As a result, it is a team that often works well together and thrives, meets goals, and achieves over the odds. Team motivation is recognizing a team member(s) for their individual progress on a project or task. Knowing how to motivate a team takes several skillsets, but experts agree that there are five major motivations that drive people's actions and improve their performance at work. They are; Achievement, Power, Affiliation, Security and Adventure.

Why can team motivation lack?

Boredom, stress, burnout, feeling overwhelmed, and a lack of clear goals can lead to a lack of motivation and make your team feel undervalued. Setting small, achievable goals, practicing self-care, changing your environment, and turning to others for inspiration can be great steps to motivate people again. The effects of poor motivation in the workplace are well-attested: higher employee turnover, lower levels of engagement, poor communication, and diminished productivity are just a few of the issues that may proliferate and lead to your workplace become a toxic environment. Before that happens, and it can take months to turn the ship around, make sure that you find the most effective ways to inspire and motivate your team. 

How do you motivate a team or individual that doesn’t care?

You can only inspire and motivate the team if they know what they are working towards. Make sure the whole team is aware of your vision and what your ultimate goals are for the business. Types of motivation used to motivate demotivated teams or individuals is to clearly and constantly communicate with your staff what is required of them, give positive feedback and reward success, and provide opportunities for development.

Why is it crucial that a leader knows effective team building strategies?

Effective team building strategies promote collaboration among team members. When individuals work well together, share ideas, and support each other, the team's overall performance improves. A leader who understands how to foster collaboration can create an environment where team members work synergistically towards shared goals. A leader's knowledge of effective team building strategies is crucial for several reasons; it enhances collaboration: increases productivity, encourages innovation and creativity, builds trust and camaraderie, helps manage conflicts and resolving issues, boosts morale, and helps retain top talent.

Learn how to develop the most in-demand skills for your future career!

Discover how you can acquire the most in-demand skills with our free report, and open the doors to a successful career. 

Download the free report today!

What’s are the pros of a motivated team? 

Having a motivated workforce has a range of advantages, such as lower levels of absenteeism , retention of workers and low levels of staff turnover, improved relations between management and workers, improved worker performance, improved quality and improved customer service. Every leader should strive to have a highly motivated workforce. A company that focuses on motivating its employees and enhancing the employee experience will see several benefits from doing so. These include, increased employee engagement, higher productivity and performance, greater levels of creativity and innovation, improved manager-employee relationships, a great company culture, and lower employee absenteeism and turnover.

What’s are the cons of an unmotivated team?

As well as the impact on an individual's productivity, a demotivated employee can also affect the overall team, creating a negative atmosphere. Additionally, with increased absenteeism or lateness at work and a lack of focus on daily tasks, other employees can become stressed when trying to pick up the slack. Over time, this can lead to further demotivation in the team, as colleagues feel overworked and under-appreciated.

Looking To Further Develop Your Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills are extremely important to excel in a career. However, other soft and hard skills are also needed.

Discover how you can acquire the most in-demand skills with our free report, and open the doors to a successful career. Download the free report today!

Why not also check out our leadership and organization development course, which will give you skills need to be confident in leadership within an organization!

Looking to potentially take your career even further? Consider how an Online BBA or Online MBA can help you develop these skills and increase your earning potential.

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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