Category Archives: Motivation

Become a great leader and role model

If asked to name a leader we might think of a captain of industry or a major political figure, a Richard Branson or a Barack Obama. But you don’t have to be responsible for a multinational company or president of a nation to be a leader – leadership also occurs on a much smaller scale. For me, a key part of leadership is the ability to influence and motivate using attitudes and behaviour – leadership doesn’t rely on the use of power and the authority inherent in a high position, nor does it result just from the ability to reward.

Leaders lead by way of personality, attitude and behaviour. A good leader needs to have a clear vision of the future, be confident in their own abilities, have a ‘can do’ attitude, and be a good communicator and motivator – they also need courage and perseverance. So, I would argue that even a junior manager is a leader of sorts – they are a role model for their team, they lead by example, they need communication skills, and the ability to influence, motivate and encourage.

There are lots of models or theories of leadership. I’m a fan of the Transformational Leadership model because it describes a set of leadership characteristics and competences that apply to leadership at all levels. There are four core attributes of a Transformational Leader, they can be summarized thus:

Charisma. The qualities and behaviors that enable a leader to act as a positive role for their team – these leaders display conviction, adherence to a set of values, are ‘true to themselves’, and behave in a consistent manner.

Inspiration. The qualities that enable a leader to articulate future goals with clarity and optimism – these leaders inspire and motivate their team.

Intellectual stimulation. The qualities that enable a leader to be both willing and able to challenge assumptions, and strive for higher levels of achievement – these leaders encourage their team to do likewise and to create a culture of creativity and constant improvement.

Individual attention. The qualities that enable a leader to be aware of the needs of individual team members – these leaders mentor and coach, and give positive feedback.

The first two of these attributes are about leading from the front, the second two are to do with enabling improvement and higher levels of achievement – I think of them as leading from the front and tuning the engine.

The above is the briefest of summaries, if you want to know more about Transformational Leadership (and other leadership theories), Peter G. Northouse’s Leadership gives a good overview.

I offer a ‘How to be a great leader’ workshop that draws on the Transformational Leadership model. This works well for groups of middle and/or senior managers. If you are interested, you can find more information at here – or call or email me.

I’ve also added a leadership element to my ‘How to be a great manager’ workshop. It’s a workshop for new managers or those with no previous management training. If you are interested, you can find more information at here – or call or email me.

How to be happy at work – PERMA

PERMA is a check-list of attributes that we need to have in our lives in order to experience a sense of well-being and contentment. The model was developed by the Positive Psychologist Martin Seligman in Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Free Press, 2011.

While it was developed as a model for a happy life, it’s a great tool for helping to understand and develop happiness at work. You can use it to think about your own situation and how it might need to be improved, or if you’re a manager you might want to use it as a way to improving the well-being, enjoyment, satisfaction, motivation and commitment of your staff.

PERMA is an acronym, the attributes it stands for are:

P – Positive Emotion

Needless to say, it’s important to feel happy at work, to be in a position where we can smile, feel content, and maybe even to laugh!

The obvious way to achieve this is to be doing something that we like and which we are good at, and importantly, something that gives us a sense of achievement. We often refer to this as having ‘job satisfaction’.

Another positive emotion at work, although it’s often only thought about when it’s absent, is security. Hope is important to, and comes from knowing that there are opportunities ahead.

What does work need to provide to make you smile?

E – Engagement

Work is engaging when there is enough of it but not too much, when it challenges us, and when it uses our skills and stretches so that we grow and progress. We know when work is engaging because we perform it in a state of ‘flow’, when time stops, when we lose a sense of self and think of nothing other than the task at hand.

What engages you at work?

R – Positive Relationships

Relationships with colleagues, bosses etc. at work are crucial to our happiness. We are more likely to thrive in a work environment where there is respect, plus openness and honesty.

If there are tensions, animosity or ‘bad blood’, when authority is used badly, then stress, depression, and lack of engagement soon follow.

How are your relationships at work?

M – Meaning

Meaning comes from doing something that we believe is worthwhile. In terms of work this might mean doing something that helps others or benefits society. But it can also be something as simple as understanding how the work that we do contributes to a larger project. So, we might think of meaning as having a sense of a bigger picture.

How does the work that you do fit into a bigger process or project?

A – Accomplishment

A sense of accomplishment can be had in many ways, such as seeing a job through to completion, solving a problem, an act of creation or innovation, learning a new skill, gaining promotion. Work that leads to accomplishment starts with a goal, be it completing the next task or rising through the company to be a leader.

What are the goals that lead to your sense of achievement?

Some things that football can teach us

I love football and read a lot of interviews with players because I’m interested in the psychology of competing and of team dynamics. And, I’m interested to hear of strategies, tactics and behaviour that can be transferred and used in a business context. Recently, two things have struck me that can easily be used to benefits all teams and all team members.

When we are a team member and things don’t go well, if we make a mistake or just don’t perform to our best ability, then we need to take responsibility for our short-comings. That’s pretty obvious! But I recently read about a way of taking this one stage further: if a colleague makes a mistake we can ask ourselves if there was anything we did that contributed, or we can ask ourselves if there was anything else we could have done that would have helped to avoid the mistake.

For example, in the context of football, if a teammate delivers a bad pass, fumbles the reception of the ball, or doesn’t react quickly enough, we might ask ourselves ‘could I have been in a better position?’, ‘could I have passed earlier?, ‘could I have passed better?’. It would be easy to find similar situations at work: ‘was I clear in my instructions?’, ‘would it have been better if I’d delivered the report earlier?’, ‘have I played a part in letting standards drop?’

People perform better when they feel confident and motivated. If a teammate performs badly the chances are they know it. The last thing they need is to be criticised, shouted at, moaned about, or in some other way made to feel even worse than they are already feeling. On the pitch, in the heat of the game, and if they are working hard and endeavouring to play their best, then encourage and support them.

You need your teammates to play their best game: what are you doing to help them?