How leaders can motivate their team for peak performance

As we wrapped up the maiden edition of Dr. Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp held in Nairobi, Kenya last weekend, I had tea with a senior leader in one of Kenya’s top tech firms and she shared with me the story of her colleague – Paul Korir – who accompanied her. He was recognized as Staff of the month for September 2023. He got a plaque, some perks and a cash prize of KSH75,000 (i.e. $500) for this. You needed to see Paul Korir’s priceless expression as the Senior Lady shared this story with me. The lady further stated that this one move boosted morale across the organisation.

This reminds us that a highly motivated workforce will always deliver excellence – the level of commitment, drive, and energy the team members give their tasks everyday becomes invaluable. While celebrating wins is a great way to motivate, I thought of sharing some additional strategies that will guide leaders to motivate their team.

Now whether you are in the private, public or in the development sector, the following strategies will enable you motivate your team for peak performance.

1. Create an engaging work-space
An environment where ideas and innovation flourish is one that has been specifically designed to do so.
The workspace that has the required tools and resources will go a long way to enable the team for peak performance.

Ranging from the ambience, the general outlook, and the grand feel of the workspace, these seemingly little and insignificant things have a psychological effect on the mind of the workers, and thus will help fan their productivity.

An understanding of how ambience influences workforce productivity is what made big brands like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and more to improve the look and feel of their workspace.

2. Leverage productive communication
Productive communication ignites motivation in your team members. Your pattern of communication with your team could either accelerate or diminish their productivity.

A leader who only complains and constantly criticizes team members will find it challenging to record peak performance from such a team.

Instead, publicly applauding and pointing out the good areas on what an their efforts will boost the morale and enthusiasm of the team to even do more.

If on the other hand, a team member does not perform as expected in a particular area, the right thing is for the leader to give such team member a constructive guide that will help point out ways that things can be improved upon.

A counter-productive approach to leadership is scolding supervisors right in front of their subordinates.

It is therefore important for leaders to improve their emotional intelligence so that you can always put your best foot forward in unleashing peak performance from your team.

3. Lead by example
Just like children pay more attention to what parents do and less attention to what parents say, our team members look at what we do, not what we say.

If you wish to motivate your team for peak performance, then be the leader who genuinely leads by example. Be transparent in your leadership. Try to put yourself in the situation of your employees by showing empathy, listen more, and speak less.

Leadership by example means that you will take tough decisions where you may need to get your ego out of the way. It means no pie crust promises. It also means you are intentional about raising other leaders within and across your workforce.

A Champion leads by example and strives to make things better for the team and all stakeholders. A Champion will effortlessly propel the performance level of team members by leading by example.

4. Celebrate small wins
It is the accumulation of small things that turn into big things.

As a leader, only waiting for the mega wins and completely isolating the small wins will not motivate your employees to peak performance.

There is a reason many offices have things like the “Best Salesperson of the Month”, “Employee of the Month”, “Most Punctual Staff” and other categories. This is because these organisations have understood the power of celebrating little wins.

A client once mentioned that, “anytime we implement some of the strategies you share with us to acknowledge and celebrate the inputs of our team members, we see increased commitment from our workforce to put in more effort and achieve the big wins.”

Something as little as sending an appreciation email to a staff member on a good performance, a thumbs up or high five in an open space or an open admiration in words goes a long way to lift the spirit and enthusiasm of the employees.

5. Be open to suggestions
Many team members want to give their best to the organisation, however, when they find out that leadership is not open and kind with taking suggestions on improvement, they retreat from sharing.

If you really want to drive transformational leadership, it is important for you to know that you have blindspots. When you are open to suggestions, it helps reduce your blindspots and enable your team to freely show you the areas of improvement that can birth massive growth for your enterprise.

Erroneously, some leaders think because team members are not as experienced, leaders pay little or no attention to taking suggestions and lending an ear to the opinions of their team members. However, what we find playing out across the world is that organizational performance continues to grow when team members bring fresh ideas and are guided by leadership.

Team members can share valuable information that will enable you deliver projects faster, cheaper, and better when they find out that the employer open to implementing recommendations.

6. Avoid favouritism
Nothing kills peak performance faster than favoritism. It brews unhealthy rivalry within the team. It divides your team. It makes a potential great team degenerate to a toxic workspace with unhealthy competition and rivalry.

Give both your male and female team members equal opportunity. Be intentional with fairness. Avoid overcompensating even in the face of social pressure. The society continues to program and condition our minds for unfairness through repeated portrayal of unintentional skewed balance.

Ensure you provide a level playing field for everyone in your team regardless of age, gender, religion, race, ethnicity. Let everyone thrive and work together to achieve a common goal.

About Dr. Abiola Salami
Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of The Dr. Abiola Salami International Leadership Boot Camp and The Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach him on [email protected] and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.

By Dr. Abiola Salami

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