How new managers can use the effects of leadership styles on team motivation to create a happier team and deliver better results

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Good leadership is a key driver for high performing teams and highly engaged people, and therefore, positive organisational outcomes” - Tony Morris, Deloitte. 

To deliver great results, it’s not always about what you do… it’s also about what you have and how you deploy your management skills

It’s clear that even the most skilled team can’t truly deliver without a motivated workforce. What is needed is a workforce that doesn’t just get by ticking boxes, but which boasts a collective passion for going above and beyond and is highly motivated to succeed.

Some motivation comes from within, of course. It’s vital that employees are in positions that play to their interests and which align closely with their career goals and future professional plans. But the truth is that inherent motivation can only take your team so far. The effects of leadership styles on team motivation must also be taken into account; you must take responsibility for how your actions affect those around you, particularly when you’re in a new position of authority within an organisation. 

“There are a number of powerful, invisible forces that act on people, communities and organisations to shape and sustain behavior. Most people are not aware of the impact of these forces, even those who are in a position to use them to everybody’s advantage.” - Jackie Fenn, vice president and fellow at Gartner

Adapting your leadership style

In the past, you’ve likely been very service oriented; you’re used to just getting things done, and that’s a big part of what’s lifted you into your new role as manager. Sticking to what you know, you may have spent your first few months on the job working hard to build productive working environments that provide a built-in direction that allows your team to operate independently. This can be a great way to drive productivity, but does it drive motivation? Does it drive passion? Does it drive the underlying emotions within your team that inspire them to do great things? Perhaps not. It’s time to leave behind the strengths that got you here, and embrace the strengths that will keep you here and allow you to build a good team culture

Understanding the effects of leadership styles on team motivation, and adapting to what your team needs to take them to new heights, is your secret weapon for success.

The effects of leadership styles on team motivation

The underlying secret to motivational leadership is being proactive rather than reactive. It’s reported that 80% of managers have a reactive state of mind, which means that they allow things to happen - they allow jobs to be done, tasks to be completed, and actions to be taken - and they respond to these situations. This leadership approach doesn’t facilitate exciting new change, and it doesn’t create new solutions to obstacles and challenges that teams may be experiencing; it doesn’t motivate or inspire. 

Taking a more proactive approach means looking ahead, rather than behind. It’s about managing what you don’t have (but what you need) instead of what you do have. And one of the biggest mistakes that managers are making is that they’re turning to technology - to prediction and analytical tools - to anticipate these aspects. Technology is great, but relying too heavily on tech for leadership may end up having the opposite effect on your team than you were expecting. Instead, turn to creativity. 

The role of creative leadership

By reducing reliance on technology, managers can give themselves the freedom to adapt their leadership approach using discovery and experimentation. Creativity such as this plays a massive role in motivational leadership as it allows managers to adapt to the needs of their own team. Each and every team is different, and the effects of leadership styles on team motivation will be different depending on the requirements and preference of each team. Moving from a highly structured directive style to a more motivational creative style may sound nerve wracking but, as McKinsey notes, ‘we can train creative competencies’ in leaders through dedicated coaching opportunities. 

Focusing on the creative side of things brings us naturally to another form of leadership style which can boost motivation and inspire teams to deliver excellence. With the right creative skills, leaders can work to create a shared vision, which forms one of the essential pillars of transformational leadership; a key approach to boosting motivation. 

Introducing transformational leadership 

Transformational leadership improves team motivation through blurring the boundaries between employee and business. Rooted in the idea of a shared vision, it creates an environment that employees feel that they are truly a part of; they see the bigger picture, and they’re motivated to do their best to help the business achieve its goals. Gartner notes that transformational leadership ‘increases staff motivation, performance, and morale’, and studies have found that transformational leadership directly boosts employee motivation while transactional leadership reduces it. 

The power of influence

These styles all have one thing in common; they influence, rather than direct. They are truly people-centric, helping you to put your team at the heart of everything you do while also optimising for the different personality types in a team

Directive styles drive productivity at production level. These are styles that jump to the end of the story for instant gratification; for a quick fix. It’s like putting a plaster over a wound. The styles we’ve discussed above drive productivity from the core, providing teams with what they need to achieve their best. These styles navigate the story from start to finish, focusing more on long term results. Rather than putting a plaster over a wound, it’s more closely equivalent to caring for a wound in order to help it heal. 

These leadership styles provide peace of mind that your team has what it takes. They allow you to trust people and give them autonomy, providing them with the room to be creative and flexible to innovate and facilitate change, and freeing you up to do more.

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