What do leaders do differently to motivate and engage team members in the workforce?

Being a retailing manager for ten years, I think I was able to achieve the company’s goals in term of sales and profit margin.  However, I found I was missing the big picture of how to become a great leader.   Rather than focusing solely on improving the financial aspects, I need to focus more on developing, engaging and motivating employees who are more crucial to increasing the company’s productivity and sustainability.  An effective leader should be able to do the following to engage and motivate employees at the workforce:

-Find a person’s innate talents and develop them.

-Develop one’s strength, not weakness

-Lead people not manage people

-Build trust and good relationship

-Treat people as individuals with respect

-Interpersonal sensitivity; be supportive and warm

-Don’t try to change people

-Encourage discretionary thinking

-Develop a compelling vision; provide a clear direction for the company

-Broad perspective

-Manage changes

-Risk taking

-Inspire employees by understand one’s values and importance

-Allow two-way communication and transparency

-Help develop employees, help people find the right fit, not simply the next rung on the ladder

-Create a company culture with core values that are importance to employees

In addition, good leaders also need to develop an incentive system, because it plays a very important role in employee engagement and motivation as well.  In the business setting, focusing on rewarding desired behavior helps employees develop positive habits and is less likely to foster resentment than a more punitive approach.  Leaders need to develop a structural system to applying positive reinforcement techniques with a focus on extinction of the negative behavior can help you turn desirable traits into strong work habits over time. This means offering an incentive when work exceeds expectations, positive reinforcement, and focusing on extinction by withholding it or withholding additional privileges when targets are not met. Rewarding a behavior, such as an excellent performance, each time it occurs will quickly result in repeated performances. However, rewarding the same behavior intermittently often yields even better results as employees work harder in case the bar has been raised and is more likely to facilitate a lasting change in behavior. Intermittent reinforcement also makes it easier to wean your employee away from their dependence on reinforcement and turn the desired behavior into a habit. Future reinforcement efforts can then be targeted to different behaviors with an expectation of similar results.  These key behavioral elements are distinguished a great leader from a mediocre one.  Remember, happy employees create happy customers.


2 thoughts on “What do leaders do differently to motivate and engage team members in the workforce?

  1. I really like the emphasis on interpersonal values trust and respect. More often than not, each of these are undervalued and “leaders” basically take them for granted as the bottom line tends to be the priority. This is where I believe many organizations and leaders fall short. However, I argue that in order for bottom line goals to be achieved and a harmonious team work environment to be created, then fostering trust and respect between leaders and followers must be made a main priority. If followers do not respect and trust their employees, then the leader has a legitimacy issue and in turn will be ineffective. If a leader does not trust and respect followers, then it leads to leader perception issues and followers becoming unmotivated and disengaged. If this can be done, the followers will be happy which will lead to higher job satisfaction which will lead to better productivity which will lead to a stronger bottom line.

  2. The traits of a good leader are very well documented in your article. As you mentioned, when you keep focusing on financial results, the company will grow in the short run, but dissatisfied employees are going to eventually bring the company down in the long run. I have worked for 3 big companies in the last 6 years and the one thing that was different from one company to the other was the leadership style of management. The most employee friendly company did the best. Apart from monetary rewards for good performance, continuous motivation to work better goes a long way with employees. The last aspect that makes a big difference, especially for employees with a family, is a good work-life balance. The group that had a supervisor who made his employees stay back late, had a high turnover and vice versa. In the recent years, more and more companies are focusing on molding their employees to be better leaders and that is a good sign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *