Science Says: How to Lead, Motivate People

Motivation is a more insightful factor when forecasting career success, compared to intelligence, ability and salary, according to research. Here are four time-tested, science-supported ways to motivate other people so you will have a winning team:

Pay Them With Purpose

Research tells us that rewards work. In fact, they tap into perceived self-interest and account for about 75% of personal motivation toward accomplishment. However, this tactic tends to be successful when the task is tied to manual labor.

When the job calls for more creativity and analytical thinking, a reward can hinder results. To be clear, you should pay your team members enough to stop them from thinking about money. Once that happens, you can motivate them with autonomy, mastery and purpose. As a leader, it will be up to you to create those environments.

Sell Them on an Emotional Level

Feelings are powerful motivators.

The human brain is set up to do what we feel.

To motivate others, you will need to make them feel something long before they think something.

The recipe is simple in theory: Feel + Think = Believe. This equation is how you change people’s minds and their behaviors. Think about all the things that you believe. It’s because you feel it with the emotional side of your brain and it’s because you think it with the logical side of your brain.

In the workplace, if you address your team members’ feelings, you can change their behavior.

Show Them Progress

When it comes to motivation, progress is the most powerful factor.

As a leader, facilitating progress for your team members is a big part of your job. In fact, satisfaction is 22% more likely for individuals with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those individuals who only express interest in major “wins”, according to research.

Persistent people, who continue despite challenges, think about what they have accomplished twice as much as the amount work that remains.

Unfortunately, motivation dies when team members believe their effort is useless and the objective is meaningless.

Tell Them a Story

Stories bring people together and give meaning to work.

It’s been said that, “stories are the most powerful weapon in the leader’s literary arsenal.”

A story is a form of currency, which begs the question, “How will you spend it?”

To get the biggest bang for your buck, start your storytelling with the motivation behind the task. Great stories begin with why, not what or when.

People are more interested in why we do things, as opposed to what we do. Make them believe in the mission by telling them a story.