How to create a motivating atmosphere for leaders?

It is very important to find a way to inspire company leaders because they are influencing the motivation of other employees.

There is a widely accepted standpoint that idealizes a strong self-motivated leader.  And yes, we choose leaders with strong drive and ability to remain motivated and to motivate others. But if leaders have the ability for self-motivation, why don’t they always offer great performance? Why do great leaders resign?

If we analyse leaders’ motivation for staying or leaving a company, it seems that the leaders’ ability to maintain their own motivation is not enough for staying, and this kind of employer expectation may cause leader’s motivation to drop. Leaders state that their self-motivation is important, but, in addition, they need independence, purpose, challenge and development. They need a frame in which they may use their and colleagues’ potentials in a positive way.

So how do we create an atmosphere that motivates leaders?  

After asking about the reasons why they want to leave, we have concluded that they are not doing what they were chosen to do. When we hire leaders who are decisive, initiatory, independent and know how to overcome challenges – we have to keep in mind that they will want to present these qualities in business practice. Leaders want to make decisions that matter. They need to have a feeling that they are shaping the company they are a part of. Leaders want a sense of purpose that matches the vision of their company. If leaders just enforce and control other’s decision without contributing to the path the company is taking, great leaders will resign.

Leaders who are independent in decision making have a stronger drive toward accomplishing company goals. In this kind of corporate culture, leaders feel a strong identification with company’s vision.  

Even experienced leaders need personal development that should be recognized and supported by its employer.  It happens that even companies with strong development culture overlook leaders in their need for development. When investing in leaders’ management skills, companies tend to do it before one acquires a leadership position or shortly after one becomes a leader. This coincides with strong motivation of younger leaders. Professional development of experienced leaders is not often in focus, because there are wrong assumptions that they have already developed enough, or that younger colleagues need more attention in this field. Leaders who are satisfied in their current company receive adequate managerial development through coaching, mentoring, and training. On the other hand, leaders that want to leave state that they would consider staying if received adequate leadership development.

Adequate development makes leaders feel appreciated and communicates to them that their individual contribution is valued. It is not easy to create a suitable development plan for leadership. Generic development programs can turn out to be counterproductive, undermining their existing skills, making them feel misunderstood. Leaders will have most benefit with programs tailored specifically for them.

A valuable approach is investigating and assessing their current competences, their softness and level of development needed for the industry, position, and market while tailoring holistic development plan that styles specific skills and develops inspiration, vision and values.

In addition, a major factor that influences leaders’ motivation are interpersonal relations in the company and the overall atmosphere. Healthy working atmosphere and good interpersonal relationships generate enthusiasm even with leaders who are otherwise dissatisfied and are considering change. They will stay because of good team members and relations, due to a sense of responsibility toward their team members. Leaders that are motivated in their current position feel that they are leading teams of highly competent people. They can rely on their team members and have constructive relationships based on respect. They feel supported from their peers, and they can count on them. These satisfied and motivated leaders also feel they can count on their superiors if needed support.

Let’s not overlook the changes brought by COVID-19 pandemic and remote working. Like everyone, leaders need to have support at work, and they will seek it in their peers and superiors. One of the greatest effects of remote working on motivation and overall well-being, is the inability to detach from work and working after hours. Leaders need to have the freedom to be flexible and freedom to give flexibility to their team members.   

In order to create an atmosphere where leaders thrive, we need to nurture the exact things we chose them for leaders. Simple enough and yet easily overlooked.

In conclusion, we should rely on leader’s self-motivation while creating an atmosphere that nourishes interpersonal relationships, sense of purpose, decision making and development.

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