How do you get a group of people to work together toward a common goal? Motivation is the key. When you know how to motivate your team, you’ll be a better leader.

Motivation comes from within. It’s personal – a reflection of your character, personality, beliefs, and values. It’s also intangible; it’s not a thing that you can see, hear or touch. And it’s fragile; a seemingly tiny obstacle can quickly discourage even the most motivated employee.

So, how do you motivate your team? The answer lies in understanding the things that inspire each individual on your team. Once you have that baseline knowledge of what motivates them, you can adjust your strategy and create an effective leadership structure to help everyone achieve common goals.

How to Motivate Yourself

Before you can motivate your team, you have to know how to motivate yourself. You are the leader of the group, after all, so you must set a good example by keeping yourself motivated on a daily basis. If you can’t understand your motivations, and more importantly, how those motivations might collapse and lose power, how can you lead and motivate your team? Remember the sage wisdom of the golden rule. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and ask yourself how you would like to be motivated. What are the best ways to motivate you? What wouldn’t motivate you?

You can motivate yourself by focusing on important things rather than setting a goal or completing tasks. For example, why is it important for you to stay motivated? What things in life do you truly value and cherish? Thinking about those answers helps clarify your motivations and how they affect you daily. They also help you better understand and relate to the motivations of others.

Passion can often be the driving force behind motivation. When you’re passionate about something, it’s easier to stay motivated. If you don’t have an intrinsic passion for your work or your career, take some time to investigate what things in life are truly meaningful and exciting to you personally. Sometimes the most important motivation is a sense of meaning or purpose.

Empathy and Communication

Once you better understand your motivations, start applying them to each member of your team. Don’t make assumptions. Communicate with them directly. Remember to ask questions and listen closely to their answers. As you learn more about their goals and objectives, it should become clear what motivates each person on your team. Keep in mind that not everyone is driven by the same things, but fundamental commonalities always tie most people together. Once you recognize those similarities and how to best apply them to your team members, you’ll be in good shape to move forward with your leadership strategy.

With a good understanding of what motivates your team and each individual on that team, you can begin to take control and harness that motivation. How? By effectively communicate the goals and objectives of your team, as well as the motivations behind them, you’ll find that everyone will work more efficiently and productively together.