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I’m always being asked questions about motivation.

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

This is a really common 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 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 that work with or for us. This could be as an individual, culturally within our organisation or from a policy and procedures perspective.

In my last post I wrote about how one of the key 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 if we’ve recruited people who have the skills and attitude to thrive in our team, 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.

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? Perhaps you don’t shoulder enough responsibility when things go wrong.

Maybe you speak more than you should and don’t truly listen to those around you.

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

Do you have a draconian policy applied to all, that only exists to ensure that the rare bad 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 own edges. But if you do draw a blank, you could ask your closest and most trusted colleagues for some feedback.

And if that still feels a little too uncomfortable, drop me a line at and let’s have a conversation about how I can help you to take your team from good to great.


If you’ve not grabbed a copy of The Four Levels of Team Performance matrix, then go ahead and get it here.

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