How Do Leaders Motivate Teams?

Leadership is not about operating a machine it’s about understanding people so well you don’t have to tell them what to do.

Emotion is a powerful thing.

Emotions and moods can have an impact on not only that person’s performance but also on the work of those around them. These emotions are a natural force that each person can create around their thinking, feeling, and behaviors – and on workplace behaviors.

Great leaders can utilize emotion if they know themselves well enough to understand the emotions, quirks, weaknesses and strengths of those they lead. This understanding enables the creation of a meaningful emotional reaction between leader and team.

One-way, mechanical, linear management is never successful because there isn’t anything to inspire the team.

Unfortunately these leaders usually lack the creativity that emotions bring to the table.

What must leaders be?

  • Flexible
  • Risk taking
  • Conservative (when necessary)
  • A person our team members admire and are motivated to impress

It’s important to establish the above because these traits can help to establish the credibility of the leader and team members actually want to follow a credible leader.

That Feel Good Feeling

This is a fact: People are motivated to do better when they feel good. So how can leaders make sure their team members feel good?

Use these six keys to emotional leadership:

  1. Understanding what motivates

Efficient leadership requires understanding what deeply moves and motivates a team into action. At times such as burnout, keeping emotions of a team high is critical. Reminding a team of what awaits when their efforts pay off is a big part of this. Motivational quotes and motivate using the underdog the underdog theme work perfectly in these situations.

Something to remember is that the leader must live in the positive so that the team dwells in negativity.

  1. Maintaining presence of mind

Really leveraging emotions requires that you embrace the fact that emotions are more powerful than thoughts. Emotions are so powerful that negative ones knock you off track and interrupt you rational thought process.

The most intense emotions have been proved to make even the most rational people lose their capacity to think straight. But amidst this turmoil, the leader must maintain presence of mind so that he can positively and effectively eliminate roadblocks to team goals. Leadership success can be attained by being honest about what is possible instead of talking about what stands between them and their goals.

Something to remember is that the leader must be in tune with emotions but never give into them. The leader must stay the course so that roadblocks will reveal themselves.

  1. Constantly gauging emotion

Human emotions are actually logical. They rise and fall in a logical pattern. It’s important for a leader to recognize when their team is over-stressed or under-motivated so an intervention can take place to renew their motivation.

Incentives can help to get a team back into action, but these are not effective if the leader doesn’t follow through on promises. It’s critical to walk the talk. And when there is success acknowledgement must take place. And there must be time to revel in their accomplishments.

Taking a breath is another thing that must happen. Let’s say it a way that is easy to remember: Let them simply be themselves. Bonding takes place as the team reflects on the role they played in something special and the recognition that their role is valued. Overworking a team simply drains them of all emotions that motivate them.

Something to remember is that your team members don’t believe their sole purpose is to serve your needs. That will never motivate them.

  1. Thinking emotionally

Great leaders put other people first. Pay attention to the emotions of team members and the customers served. Human emotions become synchronized with those expressed around them and are proved to be contagious because they have influence over the feelings of other teams or team members and customers or prospective customers – and these emotions keep each of these groups interested and engaged. Leaders must realize that the team will pick up the emotions that leak out – even if the leaders don’t think they’ve explicitly displayed them.

Leaders who consider, nurture, discipline, guide and motivate the emotions and behaviors of team members, provide their team members a model to follow for staying connected and engaged with the people and accounts they serve. Thinking emotionally is thinking in terms of serving. This will help in making sure existing accounts are satisfied, desired accounts feel courted and team members are nurtured so that they have in meeting their goals.

Something to remember is that success really boils down to great customer service.

  1. Inspiring emotional uniqueness

Team members are guaranteed to have their own agendas and that can be a problem for even a great leader. Leaders must create an environment where team members feel that it is in their best interest to follow them.

Team members must feel that they are constrained by influence but have freedom to make their own decisions. It’s all about a creating sense of participation without allowing a group-think mentality that stifles uniqueness. Each team member’s goals must be specific to their individual agendas.

Something to remember is that each team member requires something different from the leader – because of their uniqueness.

  1. Bolstering morale

Morale begins with the attitude that the leader adds to the mix. Since emotions are the most powerful determiners of both experience and perception, a great leader must be positive and encourage team members to think less about themselves and more about the positive impact they can have on the team.

Leaders must use speed and adaptability to stay on top of each team member. The leader must make decisions a step ahead and continually paint the picture of where the team is headed, the role the team member plays in the effort, and how close the team and the individual is to achieving goals. Motivation happens when the team feels totally engaged in their mission. Team members that are motivated turn their goals into a crusade that positions the entire team for success.

Something to remember is that team members get tremendous motivation from witnessing their wins.  

A Winning Leadership Style

There are a few leadership styles that may be used to alter the emotional tone of meetings:


  • Relate purpose and direction of the company.
  • Use emotions to describe the satisfaction and achievement of doing what it takes to achieve the company’s vision.
  • Think about where they are headed and provide inspiration to collaborate to reach the vision.  
  • Know the group’s direction and draw the team into the vision.
  • Establish collaborative relationships that boost performance and productivity in the long run.


  • Demonstrate interest in those around them.
  • Develop trust and rapport with individual employees.
  • Motivate them.
  • Link team’s desires to the organization’s goals.


  • Each team member talks about how they feel at the moment.
  • Usually there is one enthusiastic member in the team who lifts the whole mood.
  • Leaders are focused on building relationships and collaboration.
  • Raise morale by showing that they value employees and their feelings.
  • Build harmony by connecting individuals.


  • Draws on the knowledge of the entire group.
  • Encourages employees to provide input and collaborate on decision-making.
  • Inspires loyalty, creates consensus, and builds resonance by placing a value on people’s input.

What happens when leaders use the power of emotion in these ways? 

They create an emotional force that engages individuals and creates the contagious energy teams need to meet the demands of their work and to feel engaged and happy while doing it.


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