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Leadership Traits to Leverage for Increasing Motivation

Updated on January 23rd, 2022
Business Leadership

Engagement level in the U.S. workforce has been less than enthusiastic. One Gallup poll found that only 32 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. The majority (50.8 percent) of employees were “not engaged,” while another 17.2 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because of these stats, leaders have been searching for solutions to increase motivation. While some may turn to material perks, like bonuses, game rooms, free food, consider these leadership traits to leverage for increasing motivation.

Ask key questions.

Among the leadership traits to leverage for increasing motivation, asking questions can help a leader better understand what motivates each member of their team. “Many business owners and managers actually impose their own motivations on their team, when in reality people are all motivated by different things,” writes Due’s William Lipovsky.

“Some feel monetary incentives are great motivators, others appreciate credit where credit is due. You’ll never know unless you ask. Look around. What incentives do you have in place? How did you come by those incentives?”

You won’t know unless you ask.

William Lipovsky adds, “Ask your employees what they’re motivated by, and really listen to their answers. You may choose to offer different incentives for different employees to best suit their individual motivations. You may give one employee an extra day off while you give another a monetary bonus, depending on their interests and motivators.”

Boost self-esteem.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, provided insights on other leadership traits to leverage for increasing motivation. He once said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, its amazing what they can accomplish.”

Jeff Collins, President of Innovative Management Solutions, adds that strong leaders make this a priority.

“By offering motivation you deliver results. It doesn’t matter the size of the project or team. Through encouragement, noticing progress and improvement, and offering solutions to problems. This is a sign of a true leader who will keep a project on track and likely exceed expectations.”

Project a positive attitude.

“As a team leader, you can help motivate your team members by projecting a positive attitude regarding project completion. It helps build on the abilities that each member brings to the group.

TechRepublic states the importance of using an information, technology and business website. Then, team members can sense your confidence level regarding performance expectations,” writes content marketer Jonathan Lister.

“If you waver or project negative feelings towards team member performance, productivity can suffer. Adjusting project completion dates and team member roles within the group can sustain your positive feelings towards the project. There is not a need to inject negativity into the operation.”

Offer opportunities for self-development.

“The members of your team will be more valuable to your organization, and to themselves, when they have opportunities to learn new skills,” writes Peter Economy, aka the Leadership Guys, for

“Provide your team with the training they need to advance in their careers and to become knowledgeable about the latest technologies and industry news.”

Provide a vision and purpose.

“Create an inspiring vision of the future that also gives your team a purpose. You’ll have something to look forward to, and something to work towards. Make this vision achievable and realistic and work with your team towards achieving this goal,” suggests DeakinPrime. This from the professional education arm of Australia’s Deakin University.

“Think of practices or services that could help make both yours and their job easier. Use personal stories and anecdotes to explain your vision and inspire your team members, it will make you more relatable and less of a separate entity.”

Bring your organization into the age mindfulness.

What if I told you that there was a way to improve workplace productivity, creativity, and teamwork, while reducing stress? I think you would say that this would be too good to be true. There are leadership traits to leverage for increasing motivation tied to these areas.  But, there is such a method that is backed by research and embraced Google, Proctor and Gamble and the US Marines.

It’s mindfulness, which is simply being aware of and accepting the present.

Ari Zoldan, CEO of Quantum Media Group, explains that this can be achieved through;

Deep listening.

“Deep Listening” is a method that builds on the active listening technique. It’s also based on self-awareness. This means that you’re able to understand and respond to others.

“Encourage employees to approach you with comments or concerns, and listen mindfully to what they tell you. Make eye contact and don’t interrupt with your opinion. Notice their body language.”

If do disagree with them, just remember that they’re speaking from a place of personal truth.

Reinvent routine.

“A day in the office can deteriorate into a lineup of routine tasks. Avoid burnout by taking one part of your daily routine and approaching it as a newcomer.

Send out weekly emails to encourage employees to choose a mundane moment, like booting up a computer or checking email, and experience it fully.”

In other words, start your day by taking into account everything from how you’re sitting, breathing, and the thoughts running through your mind. Kicking off your with a mindful moment can give you a mental push to conquer the day.

Encourage autonomy.

“Mindfulness,” says researcher Richard Davidson, “is a way of taking responsibility for your own mind”. Make sure that you’re providing support and encouragement through meetings. Do the same with email reminders and let your employees find what works best for them.

Put employees in touch with the end user.

Surveys have found that employees are motivated by meaningful work. And, one of the best ways to demonstrate this sense of meaning in work is by putting your team in touch with the end user.

As Vanessa Loder notes in Forbes, “Deere & Company invites farmers who are buying tractors to visit the factories with their families. Assembly line employees get to meet the farmers, hand them a gold key, and watch them start their tractors for the first time.”

At the Olive Garden, “managers share with the staff letters from customers describing how they chose to celebrate meaningful events at the company’s restaurants.”

There’s even a Silicon Valley startup that hosts a monthly happy hour where employees and both current and potential clients mingle.

According to Dr. Adam Grant, “a face-to-face meeting has the strongest emotional impact on an employee, particularly when the employee does not normally interact with the end user.”

Create a positive work environment.

“Nobody likes to go to work and face an endless stream of tedious tasks, day in and day out, with no inspiration in sight. Most people want to do the best job they can and are practically begging for somebody to bring back the spark,” writes leadership consultant Bill Hogg.

“Creating a positive ‘buzz’ in the office radiates energy and makes people enjoy coming to work. Banish negativity and you’ll increase productivity and motivation at the same time.”

If possible, “encourage your team to personalize their work environment to reflect the team personality. If you have a few teams, you may even encourage some friendly rivalry.”

“Having fun at work makes it a happier place to be and keeps the team motivated if they see that you care about their happiness as well. Taking your job seriously is not the same as taking yourself seriously.”

And, while you’re at it, go ahead and have a little fun with your customer service. “Customers like dealing with happy motivated people.”

Being (visibly) wrong is good.

“If you’re in an organization that is truly centered around learning — filled with smart people — it should be expected that people will either poke holes in your ideas or come up with better ones,” says Rod Drury, CEO at Xero.

“It takes humility to admit you’re wrong in such a public setting, but doing so promotes an environment where people aren’t be afraid to fail and encouraged to innovate.”

Promote failure.

“We all want to succeed. We all want to climb our own personal Everests. But not everyone is prepared to embrace the close partner to success: failure,” writes adventurer Bear Grylls, who also served in the British Army.

“A good leader and motivator gives you the freedom to fail. They understand that nobody ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without failing a whole lot of times first.”

Failure forces us to learn and grow. If your team knows that failure is a necessary part of the process to success then they won’t fear it. And when a team can embrace failure, grow from it and become closer through it, then you will be firmly on your way to greatness.”

Encourage your team to speak-up.

“Within a company’s various departments, there is one communication problem that leaders have been trying to solve for years — work silos. Whether it is marketing, sales, HR, or another department, this issue sprouts up quickly and often times without supervisors even noticing,” states corporate advisor Steve D. Goldstein.

This can become a problem since it hinders communication and prevents employees from seeing the big, unifying picture.

As such, you should encourage your team to speak-up by doing the following;

Address the problem head-on.

Make your employees understand what’s going on by communicating with them the problems with silo-like behavior. “Explain that the only way the company works is through transparent, open and interconnected communications.”

Create cross-functional teams.

“When a large project is at hand, build a team comprised of employees from different departments. This will ensure every section of the company is in communication with one another.”

Streamline communication.

“Technology leaves little excuse for miscommunication these days. Startups and larger businesses alike can benefit from utilizing team management software such as Slack or Basecamp. With these types of tools, everything is documented, and another department is just a click away.”

Set integrated goals.

When you set integrated goals you’re motivating “employees to work with one another and open up communication for the greater good.”

Albert Costill

Albert Costill

Albert Costill graduated from Rowan University with a History degree. He has been a senior finance writer for Due since 2015. His financial advice has been featured in Money Magazine, Fool, The Street, Forbes, CNBC and MarketWatch. He loves to give personal finance advice to millennials.

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