How to motivate and engage yourself and others in 3 steps comes up frequently as I coach leaders and their teams. We look at motivational Monday with some inspiring quotes and images and it goes beyond that, right? This blog came out of my reflection on coaching several United Nations leaders in countries around the world, including ones in a state of emergency. How do you keep yourself and those around you motivated and engaged during the stressful times that we live in this VUCCA (volatile, uncertain, culturally complex and ambiguous) time that we live in?  I also reflected on a program I attended on institutional racism.

The question was asked at the program, “What feeling comes up for you when you think of the word institution?” And people said “small,” “like a cog,” a little tiny piece in the machine. That’s not how we want the people around us to feel, right? That’s not what’s going to keep us motivated and engaged. What will?

1. My first how to motivate and engage yourself and others step is to clearly identify and communicate what is your part and what is the part of those that you are leading or your team’s part in achieving the vision of your organization. Vision, you know, from my previous video blogs, how important that is. And it’s got to be clearly identified and acknowledged. Otherwise you are just waking up and thinking “it’s another day, why am I here? What am I doing all this work for?”

And this (being clear about how we are contributing to the vision) really keeps people inspired and motivated. That can include, actually this came out of a coaching call with a female leader, keeping a running list of accomplishments. We know from research that women tend to hold back on letting people know what they’re accomplishing, all the good that they’re doing. To get beyond that and to prepare for her annual review, she decided to keep a running list in her phone of her accomplishments. This is something that she could also do regarding her staff so that it’s no big surprise when annual review time comes around. You’ve got it. You know how to present yourself as well as what the other people on your team have accomplished.

This reflects one of Amy Edmondson’s 7 questions to determine psychological safety: “Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized.” “…psychological safety leads to team members feeling more engaged and motivated, because they feel that their contributions matter and that they’re able to speak up without fear of retribution.” (Amy Gallo, HBR 2/15/23)

Those accomplishments towards that inspiring vision sometimes need to be broken down into smaller pieces. That VUCCA world that we live in can feel really overwhelming. And it’s like, “Oh, I’ve got so much on my plate! Where do I go today?” What takes it from overwhelming to doable is having that clear vision and values and then what are my top three priorities today, this week in order to achieve my part of the vision? And then again, keeping track of those accomplishments. Another client’s 360 assessment scores were so much lower than his peers. He wasn’t seeing himself at the same level others did. And he decided to keep a journal of all the acknowledgements he was receiving from his colleagues and the people higher up in the organization. That helped make a shift in his perspective, his viewpoint of how he was contributing, and that kept him motivated (which helped pave the way for his promotion).

2. The second is treating everyone with respect. My previous respect blog, “Find out what it means to me and to you,” points to cultural variance. It’s not enough to just say we’re going to treat everyone with respect and appreciation for their part in achieving the vision. You’ve got to figure out what is going to be most motivating for that person in how you acknowledge them and how you treat them with respect; there are cultural differences. One of my leadership coaching clients helped teach me about this. They were from a country where it was a more collective rather than individual culture. And I was doing my usual celebration of successes, the small ones that were contributing to their achieving their vision. And they said, “You know, we applaud each other in meetings. So I don’t need that applaud from you, but I do want you to continue to remind me of how this is moving me towards my vision.” This second how to motivate and engage yourself and others is respect and acknowledgement, appreciation.

3. The third how to motivate and engage yourself and others step gets to the point about racism and unconscious bias. I wrote an article on bias and its impact on organizations. This is for a publication in India and I am also do Unconscious Bias program. As a potential employee or employee, I want to see in an organization that I have the opportunity to advance and be positively acknowledged and financially rewarded, commensurate to what other people are receiving financially, in other words, Breaking Free from Bias. Whether it’s me as a woman of a certain generation or someone in a wheelchair or a someone of color or any combination of cultural identities, I want to be able to look around and see there are other people like me that are moving up into leadership and being rewarded for that. That’s going to be motivating for me. So you’ve got to look at your hiring and your advancement opportunities and how bias may be impacting that and adjust accordingly.

Those are my top three how to motivate and engage yourself and others for today: 1. identifying and communicating how each person is contributing to the vision. And if you’re a solopreneur, that means how are you working towards that vision and celebrating those successes along the way. Number two is the respect and acknowledgement. And number three is breaking through unconscious bias, making sure that people know that they have opportunity, that there’s equity in the organization in terms of how they’re going to be financially rewarded and how they’ll be acknowledged and the opportunity to advance.

Leaders and coaches, ready to explore increasing motivation and engagement to further unlock potential and prosperity (yours, your organizations’, your stakeholders’) with me as your partner? Apply for a strategy session today

To our success-we are in this together! Looking forward to seeing you next week.

Marilyn OHearne, MA, CQ MCC  913-327-0611

Unlocking potential, prosperity and peace for leaders, coaches and their organizations through CQ Leadership & Team Coaching, Mentor Coaching and Coaching Supervision

Copyright February 28, 2019 and updated