Unleash the Power of Motivational Leadership: Inspire Your Team to Greatness

Motivational leader, how to become motivational leader, leadership, teamwork, naviminds

The topic of motivational leadership is a somewhat ambiguous topic to cover. In one way, it’s relatively straightforward. 

“A motivational leader is a leader who doesn’t just manage a team; they ignite a spark within each member, propelling them toward success.” 

So, had the goal simply been defining the “what” – there wouldn’t be much more to it. 

However, the real question, and the part of the topic longer than the Star Wars closing credits, is the “How”. 

How does one become a motivational leader?

In this article, we’ll explore the essence of motivational leadership and the tactics you can implement to become a motivational leader. 

Discover all our topics on training techniques.

Anne Sølvsteen presents on Motivating Leadership at the European Airline Training Symposium 2014.

Motivational leadership is of great importance and is heavily discussed and worked with in our Crew Resource Management courses

What is a good (motivational) leader?

To answer that question, I went to Google to see what others say about motivating leaders.

Here’s a little snippet of what I found: 

The people follow the example of those above them – Chinese proverb. 

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader – John Quincy Adams. 

Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it – Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader – George S. Patton.

Another statement I found was this: 

Leaders have followers. Managers have subordinates.

This last statement made me wonder: Is it positive to be a leader but negative to be a manager? 

And if so, why? Isn’t it good to be a good time manager, workload manager, or a good manager of information flow? 

I’d argue that a motivational leader must master and possess both capabilities – the ones of a leader and a manager. 

So, I added a few thoughts on this: 

Management is the process of organising people to accomplish goals using available resources effectively. 

Leadership is the practice of influencing people to want to support others in accomplishing a common task. 

A leader can influence the people around them via their management and leadership. So, management and leadership are both good qualities. 

But, much like the chicken and egg causality dilemma- which quality comes first? 

Before effectively managing and organising people to accomplish goals, you must gain people’s trust. 

Once you’ve gained their trust, people will be more likely to follow you and perceive you as their leader. And they will follow you in your attempt to manage resources. 

The effects of a motivating leader

To highlight at least one way of being a leader, I’ve chosen to include a relatively well-known video clip: 

With Captain Hancock in mind, let’s return to the leadership statements I showed you earlier. 

The people follow the example of those above them – Chinese proverb. 

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader – John Quincy Adams. 

Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it – Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader – George S. Patton.

Which of these statements do you think matches Captain Hancock’s leadership style?

As there’s a whole network between us, I will assume you’re thinking of this one:

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader – George S. Patton.

Captain Hancock represents a somewhat old-fashioned leader. In the video, he is a deeply determined, decisive man – but what did that bring him? 

An essential part of making decisions is to gather as much information as possible within the time available. 

Those around Captain Hancock will perceive him as a role model – and what can they learn from his behaviour? 

Well, they most likely learned that a leader can disregard the option of asking for clarifying information. And as a manager – what did he actually manage? 

He sure did not manage information flow, and more importantly, did he fail to motivate and stimulate his subordinates who will likely follow his example of behaviour. 

The impact leaders have on their team members

impact of a leader, leadership, team, teamwork, naviminds

We can ask ourselves, “How much does it mean to have a motivating leader? Will it actually affect how we work?

Let’s have a look at what statistics and surveys tell us: 

performance and satisfaction statistics, good leadership, naviminds
Uhl-Bien, 2003

Now, this doesn’t necessarily say anything about motivated subordinates. But it would be fair to assume that if you’re motivated, you will also have quality relations or vice versa. 

Here’s another research done in this area: 

“Research suggests that the self-sacrifice of the CEO and other leaders are incrementally related to the effectiveness of an organisation or a group.” 

Van Knippenberg and Van Knippenberg, 2005

When motivation wears off, it is fair to expect that efficiency will, too. 

We might also connect this to how we raise our children. In earlier times, the general upbringing philosophy was that children were not to be seen or heard, which has proven to harm children’s development, independence and learning when they are not viewed as equals, listened to and heard in decision-making. 

7 traits of a motivational leaders

At its core, motivational leadership fosters enthusiasm, commitment, and a sense of purpose among your team members. It is not about wielding authority or instilling fear but empowering individuals to unleash their full potential. 

leadership, learning, teamwork, naviminds

Here’s the top seven qualities a motivational leader possesses: 

1. Leading by example

Motivational leaders lead from the front. They set an example through their actions, work, ethics, and attitude. When your team sees your passion and dedication, they are more likely to follow suit. 

2. Empower and trust your team

One of the key principles of motivational leadership is trusting your team to make decisions and take ownership of their work. When individuals feel trusted and empowered, they are likelier to go the extra mile and exceed expectations. 

3. Inspire a shared vision

Motivational leaders have a clear and compelling vision for the future. They communicate this vision in a way that inspires and engages their team.  

4. Recognize and celebrate achievements

Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and celebration. Acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of your team members. Celebrate milestones and achievements, no matter how small. This reinforces a positive and motivating work environment. 

5. Provide support and growth opportunities

Motivational leaders are invested in the growth and development of their team members. Offer opportunities for learning and skill development. Show that you care about their personal and professional growth. 

6. Encourage open communication

Create an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged. Listen to your team’s feedback and concerns. When people feel heard and valued, they are more motivated to contribute their best. 

7. Lead with positivity

Maintain a positive attitude even in challenging situations. Optimism is infectious and can help your team navigate obstacles with resilience and determination. 

How to become a motivating leader

Now, with the traits mentioned above, we are indeed getting closer to the actual “How”. Although I feel I’d be letting you down if I didn’t hand over some concrete tools you can start implementing today. 

So, for this, I’d like to share my “communication toolbox” – which contains the tools you need to use to become a motivational leader. 

Let’s go through them one by one: 

1. Be a good role model

This is of essential importance. You cannot expect your subordinates to wear the uniform correctly if you don’t do it yourself. You cannot expect your subordinates to speak positively about the company if you don’t do it yourself. For employees to perceive their leader as a leader, they must feel trust. 

But how can a leader communicate in ways that generate trust? 

This brings me to the next item in our toolbox.

2. Generate trust via authenticity

For your subordinates to feel trust in you, they must feel that your public conversation matches your private conversation. This is one of the big keys to authenticity. Authenticity means that your public conversation includes or aligns with your feelings and thoughts. If you can implement that as a leader, that would be a huge trust-building factor. 

And I’d stick to the part about feeling for a little while (don’t worry, I’m not forgetting the trusted toolbox). 

Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This brings me to the next item.

3. Say “great job” and “thank you”

The best thing for a leader might just be to realise what it actually does to an employee to be praised. Praising is a motivating factor where you make people feel good. And as a consequence, people might actually start to work harder to satisfy their leader. 

4. Say “I believe in you”

Saying these words (or something like it) will endorse trust in your employees. Expressing trust in your employees will remove constraints. 

5. Ask “How can I help you”

When employees are given the right tools and feel they have access to the right tools, they, together with the team, will grow. 

6. Admit “I was wrong”

Because leadership isn’t about being perfect. 

7. Use “Together we can”

Having the feeling of being in it together – that we have a common goal – you express yourself with words like “we” and “us”. 

Take this example: Imagine you’re in a meeting, and the leader speaks to you like this: 

“Your proposal is very good, but how will you make sure you do not go over budget?” 

Which feeling does this give you inside regarding the weight of responsibility for the job? 

You will likely feel it is your responsibility to solve it. 

But we can express the exact same thing with a tiny change of words: 

“Your proposal is very good, but how can we make sure that we do not go over budget?” 

We now indicate via words that we’re in it together, that we’re here to help each other, and that we have a common goal. 

And whilst you might be thinking, can such a small word be of such importance? Does it make that big of a difference? 

Of course, it’s not only about the word itself; it’s about how your choice of word reveals how you feel. 

When you lead with motivation and inspiration, you create a ripple effect that extends beyond your immediate team. Your team members become motivated leaders themselves, and the culture of motivation spreads throughout the organisation. This leads to higher productivity, better collaboration, and, ultimately, greater success. 

What’s next?

Motivational leadership isn’t just a leadership style; it’s a way of positively impacting your team members’ lives. By embodying the principles of motivational leadership, you can inspire your team to achieve greatness, individually and collectively. 

Start rehearsing, doing, and embodying these eight communicative tools when you go to work tomorrow and watch your team soar to new heights of success. 

Dive into our insightful and informative articles that will help you explore more and get ahead of the competition. 

Anne Knudsen

Anne Knudsen

Anne's career began in the late 80s as a cabin crew, and she was quickly drawn to the world of flying. After a few years, she became a pilot and flight instructor in several larger airlines. Presently, Anne holds the role of CEO at NaviMinds.

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