How to Inspire and Motivate People as a Leader

Motivate kid with loud speaker

Modern leaders might have a hard time animating their people, as it is impossible to simply issue an order. Even though you instruct them on what to do, they might follow only temporarily as long as you observe them. They will impatiently wait for the perfect moment to keep doing what they find significant.

Nowadays, leaders must fight for their people’s cooperation. The two main methods for doing so are motivating and animating, i.e., inspiring them. Though some people use these terms interchangeably, their true meaning is entirely different. The key lies in what you actually desire to achieve.


To motivate people means to get people to carry out certain actions that will lead to a particular and actual objective. In case you need to motivate people to do something they do not wish to, you should suggest a thing they desire as a reward.

Take coaches, for example. What they use during halftime when talking to their players is motivation. They want the players to run back to the field energized and focused, despite the fact they might be too tired and discouraged. The reward, in this case, would be a victory.

Be Direct and Clear

Since motivation is all about bringing people to carry out an action, state clearly what you want them to do. Stay away from generalizations. Instead, say directly what needs to be done and how.

Set Limits

To motivate people to take particular steps and actions, it is advisable to set clear limits and deadlines. For instance, it is much better to suggest working long hours for a limited amount of time until the job is completed than to make them stay after work hours day after day.

Share the Load

Refrain from making people do something you yourself would never do. Thus, if you need to ask them to work late or for the weekend, don’t plan any other free-time activities. Show up at work and share the burden.

Inspiration light balls and screws and graphs

Avoid Instilling Fear

Fear and deadlines can sometimes be excellent motivators. However, if you constantly insist on fear, you will ultimately result in demotivating your people. Stick to more positive and constructive emotions like enthusiasm, self-esteem, delight, the pleasure of accomplishment, etc. Not only do people prefer such emotions, but they are also encouraged by them.

Explain Why They Need to Take Particular Actions

When urging people to do something, always state clear reasons for that. You may come up with your own or give some that are at the company level. However, those personal ones are the best and most effective ones. They may range from the hope that everyone will keep their job to offering a bonus or a few days off.


Unlike with motivation, the whole point of inspiration is to change and improve people’s opinions and feelings about themselves. These should urge them to take effective steps and do the work. After all, inspiration takes advantage of people’s ambitions and values.

Commencement speakers, for example, are the ones who inspire listeners. They usually give speeches on challenges and difficulties graduates may face in their lives as well as the opportunity to do something different. As opposed to motivation, inspiration does not promise a reward, except for the one that emerges from within. Thus, inspiration addresses the innermost goals that people strive for.

Be the Change You Wish to See

Your speeches and words may partially inspire people. However, the best possible inspiration is you — your deeds, reputation, personality, and behavior. The most effective way to kindle the best in people is to be the best version of yourself.

Motivational piece of paper on notebook Be a Storyteller

Don’t just issue orders and directions like a bad boss. Try to tell stories as they do not instruct or order people what they should do. What they do is engross people’s fancy and emotions. What’s more, they illustrate to people what they are able to do or become.

Call Upon People’s Values

Always demand from people to behave in a manner that is in accordance with their own value system.

Believe in People

When inspiring people, you do not offer precise instructions or directions. Instead, you allow and strengthen them to be the best version of themselves. You should firmly believe that, eventually, they will find the right way and do the best possible thing.

Challenge People

What inspires people is not carrying out ordinary activities or satisfying expectations. Quite the contrary — it is hard work, creativity, and imagination, as well as the sacrifice necessary to exceed personal limits that inspire.

Knowing the Right Moment

As you may have noticed, motivating and inspiring people are not reserved for inspirational speakers or life coaches. Those are the actual tools that great leaders constantly use. They might employ these tools in a face-to-face conversation, during meetings, or when delivering a presentation. The key point is to awaken the best in people. The essential trick is being aware of the right occasion to use them.

How can you tell when you need to motivate and when to inspire your people? The answer is simple. You stick to motivation when there is a short-term and particular objective that must be accomplished. But when you want to build your people’s long-term ambitions, identity, and commitment, then you should inspire them. Sometimes, however, you will need to combine both — to give instructions and organize people to perform a particular task and to light up their desires and observe from aside. You might be surprised by the ultimate results.

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