What Motivates Leaders?

By |Published On: January 31, 2012|

Leaders have to develop new and innovative ways to motivate their followers every day. But what motivates leaders?

I started thinking about this question recently when my 8th grade son wasn’t motivated to get out of bed early one school morning to participate in one of his final basketball practices. Of course it wasn’t too hard for me to motivate him – ‘get up or there won’t be any XBox this weekend’. But why couldn’t he motivate himself to get up?

He is a leader. Not in the same sense you or I am – yet – but a leader none the less.

In the car on the way to school he was still complaining about having to get up early. He was giving excuses for why he shouldn’t have to – it’s the last week of basketball; I’m not going to get any better or worse by not practicing this morning; I’m not going to play any more or less in the game if I miss practice, etc.

I told him what I think most fathers (leaders) would have told him. “You made a commitment to your team. You need to see your commitment through.” Then I took off my fatherly hat and thought about the situation from a different perspective – that of a mentor.

I reminded him that he is a leader on the team and in school. That he aspires to be a leader in life. I validated his feelings by letting him know there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed too. I told him one of his jobs as a leader is to motivate his followers and that he can’t do that if he isn’t motivated. I mentioned that what motivates one person doesn’t necessarily motivate another and suggested that he needs to determine the things that most motivate him and be prepared to call on them when he needs motivating.

I gave him some suggestions: Set a goal and use a picture of that potential achievement as your motivation; find a book or movie that motivates you; find a song that motivates you.

In the end, he made it to practice – though a few minutes late – and we had an opportunity to connect about leadership. That really motivated me for the day.

What are some things that motivate you?

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