Be a Smart Boss: How to Motivate Your Employees

One particularly important skill for leaders to cultivate is the ability to motivate their employees. The mark of a bad boss is the use of fear and control in steering workers; however, smart leaders use their words carefully to guide team members in a positive direction, writes Marcel Schwantes, Principal and founder of “Leadership From the Core.”

In his article for Inc., Schwantes enumerates 13 examples of things that good leaders can say in order to motivate their employees. He emphasizes the importance of intentionality and thoughtful word choice. The model words and phrases he suggests include the following:

  • “I’ll follow up on that and get back to you by Tuesday.” – Clear direction and firm expectations on the part of the leader, combined with consistent follow-through, will build trust between employees and bosses.
  • “I need you to improve. Here’s what’s working well.” – Opening a conversation about a sensitive topic, like an employee’s performance, takes a delicate touch. Schwantes emphasizes the importance of opening with some positive reinforcement, then easing the conversation towards specifics of how performance can be improved. Ending the conversation on a positive note, with a workable solution, is also key.
  • “Can I get your advice on this?” – Schwantes cites Alison Wood Brooks, who authored a study whose results suggest that people who ask for advice are perceived as more competent. Smart bosses can instill confidence in their employees by going to them for advice.
  • “You are right.” – Schwantes explains that “humility is a leadership strength that is often misunderstood.” Rather than being a mark of timidity, or lack of self-confidence, humility in leaders comes across as determination and selfless service to the larger goal of company success. A smart boss can ask for help, learn from others, and acknowledge when their employees are right.

For more details and the rest of Schwantes’ suggestions, see the full article at Inc.