Leadership - Why managers don't motivate

about motivation, leadership, Leadership, Leadership Styles


As a team leader, you have a great responsibility. You are the coach, mentor and support for the people in your team. If others do not feel this support from you, they will look for it elsewhere. Leadership is more than management and control.

What does it take to develop true leadership?

1. How to develop real leadership

First of all, let's get rid of a persistent myth. Whether you are taking your first steps as a manager or you have years of experience, you are not born as a leader. Leadership is a skill you can develop. 

Leading others starts with leadership in yourself. Thorough self-knowledge lies at the basis of successful leadership. A clear insight into your personality, preferences, beliefs and values is indispensable if you want to prevent yourself from going wrong as a leader.

A good start is this tip: actively seek feedback from others. Ask someone who you trust how you come across. You will see that there are differences between your perception and how you appear to others. Maybe there are immediate improvements for your attitude, communication and behavior.

This form of self-reflection is not only useful for starting managers. Every manager or leader should take the time to ask themselves the following questions:

  • What are the things that I have done well today/this week? What could I have done better?
  • What things did I do to help or encourage my team?
  • What could I do more?

It can be useful to keep a kind of leadership diary for this. If you want a professional sounding board, you can rely on a professional coach who asks the right questions, gives constructive feedback, puts things in perspective and challenges you to grow in your leadership.

That's why it's important that you, as a manager, know exactly what drives you, what your VALUES are. The things that are important to you.

Common values are for example: freedom, equality, justice, solidarity or respect. For some, freedom may be a strong value and for others, justice is the main driver.

Now it's your job to put these core values into practice by acting upon them. This is important because your employees look at what you do and take over your behavior. It is certainly also advisable to inform your employees of your most important values. If respect is one of your core values, it helps to make clear what it means to you and what you expect from others to show respectful behavior. Also, keep in mind that the interpretation of a value for you can be different for your employees or colleagues. So make clear what respect means to you, for example.

2. What is the difference between leadership and management?

If you want to be successful as a leader, it is important to find the right balance between leading and managing. What is the difference?

A manager is mainly focused on setting and achieving objectives, monitoring progress and making adjustments where necessary. A manager mainly makes decisions based on figures and objectives.

A leader looks at the long term and exerts influence by inspiring people. A leader delegates and makes decisions based on what is best for the team.

In short, you could say: A manager says what needs to be done and a leader asks what needs to be done.

Or as the American management professor Peter Drucker once said:

"A manager does the things right, a leader does the right things."

The leader/manager is in fact ideally one and the same person, with varying tasks. He does things well and regularly thinks about whether he is doing the right things. Realizes goals and motivates and inspires people. He monitors progress but also supports his people to achieve that progress. He is focused on the present and also has a clear picture of the future.

3. Why coaching leadership works better

I often think back to our wonderful walking holiday in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Under the guidance of two local guides, Abdel and Mustafa, we walked with the family for 5 days through breathtaking landscapes. Both guides took on different roles. Mustafa mapped out the route, checked if we were on course and if the timing was right to reach the final destination of the day where we were going to spend the night. Mustafa was the one who managed the trip perfectly, a real manager.

But of both guides, Abdel stayed with me the most. He inspired us with wonderful stories about our next destinations, checked regularly to see if everything was still OK and even managed to motivate our 6-year-old son, who was very tired of walking, to be the first to reach the top of the hill where our sleeping hut was for that night. Abdel had the qualities of a real coach.

Leadership and coaching often go hand in hand. A good leader is often a good coach. 

These are the characteristics of a good coach:

The word coach in the original sense means carriage, a means to bring a valued person from the present place to the desired place.

This is exactly what a good coach (in the current sense) should do. That is helping others to achieve their goal, namely to bring the situation they are in now to the desired result.

4. Get your team motivated: this is how to do it

When you ask people managers what their most important task is, you very often get the answer 'motivating employees'.

The question is: what exactly motivates people? An employee can do the requested tasks neatly because the boss wants to or because there is a reward attached to it. But is the employee really motivated? In that case, the motivation certainly does not come from within.

Actually, there are two forms of motivation:

  • Extrinsic motivation
  • Intrinsic motivation

 Extrinsic motivation arises from an external impulse or source. For example, the prospect of a bonus or fear of a negative rating.

In the case of intrinsic motivation, the motivation comes from the person himself. He or she does not act to obtain an external reward or to escape a sanction, but because of an inner motive such as eagerness to learn, self-satisfaction, pleasure in the job, personal growth, etc....

Of course, it is much stronger when motivation comes from the employee himself. That personal drive, that's what it's all about. And yet, many companies and managers focus mainly on external motivation factors such as remuneration, extra benefits, bonuses and even sanctions or threats.

As a manager, how do you ensure that people become motivated on their own? Actually, this is quite simple: by responding to the main needs of each employee. 

And these are: self-development, recognition and appreciation, job content, social interaction, job security and working conditions (remuneration and the like).


Remember that employees can be at different levels. So you will probably need a different approach for each of your team members.

An important condition is also the degree of autonomy that an employee has. The more freedom, the more the intrinsic motivation is given the chance to manifest itself. The more choices a person can make in the job, the more they can come up with solutions themselves, the more responsibility they will take. And this ultimately leads to more higher job satisfaction.

5. How can I continue to grow as a manager?

Your communication skills are the beginning of everything. It is not for nothing that they are at the top of the list of the most important skills for managers. An example? Being able to give constructive feedback and being open to feedback yourself, is the skill that will help you achieve better results with your team. Having the strength to give feedback (both positive and negative), and doing so in a respectful way. But also asking for feedback to others. Consider feedback as a way of detecting your blind spots and continuously improving yourself.

Also read: How to deal with negative feedback

An important skill is also to learn how to delegate effectively. Wanting to do too much yourself, micromanagement and not being able to let go are the main pitfalls of many beginning and experienced leaders. 

If you don't delegate, there's a good chance that you'll get overwhelmed by too much work, but especially that you won't be able to get your priorities done: leading and stimulating your team and developing new projects.

By leaving tasks to your employees, you also improve their performance and productivity. You give them more responsibility and they get the chance to grow and develop.

If you really want to increase the return on your leadership, then a practical leadership course is probably the best investment you can make.

No time to take a course, but you still want to learn more about leadership? Dowload the e-book “Leadership for Beginners” https://sellfy.com/p/Imep/