How To Motivate Your C-Suite Towards a Vision for Success

Our large-scale COVID-19 remote-work experiment has continued indefinitely, and your C-Suite executives’ motivation, performance, and well-being have suffered. Leaders need new tools to effectively reenergize their teams, to identify and work on recurring struggles, and to empathetically help them resolve issues they are facing.

Structure, guidance, and regulation are part of a leader’s responsibilities, but many studies show that fostering internal motivation is more important than an external framework for a healthy work environment.

In this article, I have identified three main psychological needs that leaders can meet to help their team stay engaged, confident, and motivated by applying a well-established theory of motivation called self-determination theory (SDT for short). The needs we are going to look at together are relatedness, competence, and autonomy. 

1. Relatedness

By creating a sense of belonging among your team, you will ensure that they feel taken care of. Your employees want to know their perspectives are heard and valued, so take the time to listen to them. You can do this in a few different ways:

  • Acknowledge and validate their emotions and reactions.
  • Reducing the team size and identifying each member’s work and accomplishments will make sure that no one gets overlooked or lost in the shuffle.
  • Whenever problems arise, make sure you get feedback from all parties involved. As a result, you can identify the biggest issues and obstacles while strengthening connections and fostering communication.
  • Don’t fail to acknowledge people’s contributions. They are unique and necessary.
  • Let your team members know you care about their well-being, not just their productivity. 

2. Competence

This refers to when a person feels effective and experiences growth. It has been shown that keeping your C-suite team accountable for established goals can improve performance, and motivational science also indicates that trust breeds trust. Below are some tips for igniting your team’s internal motivation:

  • Involve your C-suite in decision-making in areas where their input is valuable. Making suggestions for improving an ongoing process, for example, can maximize a sense of empowerment, progress, and ownership.
  • When you ask a member to demonstrate their mastery of a particular skill or task, ask them to explain why they chose a particular strategy.

Set up regular check-ins to discuss progress on individual goals and create strategies to achieve them. 

3. Autonomy

Leading from within fosters internal motivation by empowering your talent with the sense that they are the authors of their actions and have the power to make choices that are in alignment with their values, goals, and interests, as well as those of their team members. As leaders, we should encourage autonomy and genuinely care for our team, while also understanding that every member bears responsibility towards a common goal. To foster employee autonomy, leaders should take the following steps:

  • Encourage self-initiative and participation. Ask “Which aspect of the project do you see yourself leading?”
  • Be careful not to use controlling language (“Get it to me by tomorrow!”) and minimize coercive controls like unreasonable deadlines and constant monitoring. Encourage them and provide positive feedback, such as, “I know it’s a tight deadline, but having your skills on this team will be so beneficial for our client.”
  • Provide rationales for your demands. The more people understand the importance of a given task, the more likely they are to put in their best effort.

Motivation is especially at risk during these pandemic times because people’s work environments can make or break these three channels. Our drive to be our best selves is fueled by our values, sense of enjoyment, and growth, regardless of the circumstances. 

Employees are engaged and feel valued at work when leaders meet the three psychological needs (relatedness), feel motivated by growth (competence), and feel empowered and confident in their abilities (autonomy). A team who feels underappreciated or coerced will, at best, comply half-heartedly with a leader’s pivot strategy, and not commit fully to achieving it. As a result, they will lose all motivation and fail to meet goals and deadlines.

Are you looking to learn how to foster creativity, engagement and motivate your C-suite towards success? To learn the tools you need to successfully utilize the SDT principle, visit my website

If you would like to toss around ideas, please get in touch…

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