Do you have the drive to succeed – at a task, at school, over the course of your career? Drive is defined as “an impelling, culturally-acquired concern, interest, or longing.” And the recipe for success relies on a person’s drive or motivation.
Individually, where does this drive originate? What motivates us? For leaders, there is another, larger question: How do I motivate my team and keep them motivated?
In many ways, being able to find the answer to these questions is the key to effective leadership. Personal motivation differs for everyone. Of course, being a leader is easiest when team members already have a strong internal drive because half the battle is won. But often is the case when team members require external motivation. Strong leaders make it a priority to identify the levels of drive among team members, how that drive is fueled, and how to engage each individual in ways that give them a sense of ownership and internal reasons to work toward success.
While understanding individual motivators is important, leaders can create an environment that focuses on and encourages personal motivation:
Team members won’t be enthusiastic just because the leader is, but they almost certainly won’t be excited if they don’t sense enthusiasm in the leader.
Empower your team.
Empower team members to bring solutions to their problems, not just the problems. This approach provides followers with the incentive to try to make things better. It also teaches them that they are capable of creating solutions as opposed to being stymied by challenges. This is a critical behavior to learn for success.
Encourage new ideas.
If you reward team members for challenging the status quo (even if their ideas aren’t always adopted), you’ll ensure that they’ll be thinking about the organization.
Frequently. Team members generally want to feel like they are part of a team, and that the team is headed in the right direction. By communicating both good news and challenges to members, a leader sends a message that the overall success of the group is important to individual success – the concept that a rising tide lifts all boats. Once team members see that they are included in the overall trajectory of the group and encouraged to play a positive role, motivation becomes internalized.
At Valley Forge Military Academy & College, we encourage our students to develop internal motivation through positive competition, teamwork and goal setting. We empower them to participate, to solve problems and to take ownership of situations. Our academic structure and military model elicit each cadet’s innate drive and tenacity. By achieving personal goals, cadets gain self-confidence and the desire for continued success.