I like to focus on receptive and expressive intelligence, which I call CQ. A healthy dose of CQ is essential when being in charge of a group or team because the task of motivating them often falls to you. This may seem unfair. After all, isn’t everybody responsible for their own performance? Yes, but being a team leader means leaving your unawake ego at the door and leading your empowered ego to join your team. If you have the opportunity to help move a project along, you do it; you don’t worry about whose responsibility it is. Your role is to monitor the well being of the entire group and help whenever possible.
Now, motivation is not a perfect science, but there are some time-tested ways with good rates of success. The following are steps I’ve learned over time and are ones I now remember always help the morale of a team assigned even to the dullest of tasks:
1. Deserve Credibility: Make sure you really understand the project you need to motivate your team about. It sounds silly, but I have often been present when a team leader has jumped up and down and after thirty minutes not one of us had the slightest clue what he was talking about.
2. Notice and Bring Out Individual Strengths: Every person can contribute some idea, knowledge, or perspective. Remember why each individual is unique and draw on that to create a more democratic setting. Eventually, everybody will feel less intimidated by the group and more comfortable just being themselves. If you are looking for a simple, yet rather accurate tool to help identify and talk about individual strengths, have the group volunteer to check out their enneagram. This is a tool I was introduced to over 15 years ago, and in my youth didn’t use as much as I wished I had. Now, I find myself using it whenever I can and it has saved me oodles of precious time.
3. Recall Being Inspired: At some point in your life, somebody has helped you to feel inspired and motivated. What did they do? Did they keep people involved? Did they know when to stay quiet? Or were they just comfortable with themselves? Remember what it was like to receive a boost in motivation and it will seem easier to deliver it.
4. Recall Being UNinspired: Feeling unmotivated is like wearing a lot of heavy clothing: it’s hard to move around and you just want to stop. Don’t make the same mistakes others have. Remember what actions have made you feel less motivated and avoid them. Omitting the bad can be just as important as including the good.
5. Collaboration and Consideration: Being a part of a group means being a part of a mini-community. Don’t discourage people from participating even if you think you understand what they have to say. Talking is a way for people to better understand their own ideas and thoughts. Encourage them to speak for that purpose, but also because, in reality, you probably can learn a thing or two from them. Let your community help with the motivation by conversing their way to a common goal. That is, after all, why they came together to begin with.
6. Measurement and Goals: No matter how headstrong we are, most of us still love a goal and structure. (Even if we don’t admit to it – we do). Put a stake in the ground and have your team understand what you are all working towards. Reward and recognize benchmarks and outcomes. Help them to recognize their teammates as well. This will only increase camaraderie and collaboration.
7. Have as much fun as you can: We all spend a lot of our hours at work; it may as well be as enjoyable as possible. I try and take walks with my crew. We’ve gone to museums, they’ve taught me how to ride the subway. I find even ridiculous things can be enjoyable. Cherish them and try to do as many as you can.
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