Chapter 8

A Different Perspective on Motivation

Stop trying to motivate your team!

I’m regularly asked questions about motivation.

Questions like “How do I motivate my team?” or “How do I keep my team motivated?”.

This challenge is a widespread dilemma for leaders and managers at all levels. Whether you are a newly promoted team leader, a divisional head in a major PLC, an MD, or the CEO of an entire business, we all spend our quiet moments trying to solve the motivational dilemma.

But what if we’ve spent all this time asking the wrong questions?

I don’t believe that it’s a leader’s job to motivate their team.

So, in this respect, motivation isn’t something that we need to do.

Motivation is about actively not doing certain things.

As leaders, we must be intentional about ensuring that we’re not doing anything to demotivate those who work with or for us – this could be as an individual, culturally within our organisation, or from a policy and procedures perspective.

One of the critical roles of a leader is to recruit the right people and build a brilliant team around them. If we’ve got this bit right and recruited people with the skills and attitude to thrive in our group, then we should never need to motivate them.

But ensuring we’re not doing anything to demotivate them is a critical area of focus.

“I don’t do that,” I hear you say!

But I suspect you probably do. At least on an unconscious level.

Find Your Blind Spots

We all have our blind spots and leadership traits that are less than productive. I know I certainly do!

It could be that you inadvertently take more than your share of the credit when things go well.

Or perhaps it’s the opposite? Maybe you don’t shoulder enough responsibility when things go wrong.

Do you speak more than you should and don’t truly listen to those around you?

Or do you do more practical things that demotivate those in your business?

Do you have a draconian policy applied to all that only exists to ensure that the rare rotten apple in your business doesn’t get one over on you? I’ve certainly seen a good number of these in my time.

What are your ‘dark-side traits’ that are having a demotivating effect on those around you?

I’d be surprised if some quiet, personal reflection doesn’t yield any insights. Most of us, deep down, know our edges. But if you do draw a blank, you could ask your closest and most trusted colleagues for some feedback.



Further actions

Listen to this podcast

Keeping Your Team Motivated - Episode 153

In this solo episode of my podcast, I reveal the secrets of keeping your team motivated. By the time you’re done listening, you’ll have a range of actionable strategies to boost the motivation in your team or workplace.

I share with you some of the most common demotivating factors in the workplace and explain why your current motivational tools are only effective for 50% of your team.

Alongside that, you’ll also learn how to practically use three of the key motivational factors that affect us all, plus lots more.

Keeping Your Team Motivated with Ben Morton

Book Recommendation

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

Leaders often overlook the importance of happiness in the workplace, but it’s a crucial aspect deserving attention. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s work adds valuable insights to this realm, drawing from extensive research to demonstrate the profound benefits of happiness.

Lyubomirsky emphasizes that achieving happiness requires intentional effort, offering psychological strategies that are effective if diligently applied. Her book provides a wealth of practical tips, emphasising the notion that happiness is primarily a state of mind and within one’s control.

One notable aspect of her research is the role of genetics in happiness, with some individuals having a higher “set point” for happiness than others. However, Lyubomirsky highlights that genetic predispositions only account for a portion of overall happiness, leaving a significant portion under individual control.

By adopting new happiness habits and actively working towards a positive mindset, individuals can significantly enhance their happiness levels. This shift not only benefits personal well-being but also influences others, as people naturally gravitate towards positive and happy leaders.

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