How to Motivate Your Team: One Question You Must Ask

When you think about having energized, motivated teams, if you’re like most leaders, you will focus on your people, or maybe their surroundings.

But if you want to lead energized, motivated teams, the first place you want to put your focus is on yourself…and specifically, on your motivations.

You can do this with one question:

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to lead?”


There are typically five reasons people choose to lead a team. I call them the “Five Ps”.

They are:



Pennies / Purse




Let’s take a look at the first three of these reasons people choose to lead a team:

Power – you want the ability to tell people what to do

Prestige or Pride – you gain a sense of well-being or pleasure from the title

Purse – you want the increased pay that often comes along with the role

Many leaders who turn into bad bosses take on their leadership roles for one or more of these three reasons. Maybe they like having power and want the money that comes with it. Or perhaps their sense of well-being is wrapped up in having what they see as an important title.

The problem with trying to lead from these motivations is that they are not aligned with what it takes to succeed as a leader.



Leaders accomplish results with a team. Relationships AND results: those are the critical motivators for successful leadership.

Those are the motivations in the final two Ps, People and Purpose:

People – you want to serve the team or organization

Purpose – you want to achieve a specific mission



If you want an energized, motivated team, begin by examining your own motivations. Be honest with yourself: Do you choose to lead in order to serve your team and accomplish meaningful results?

If you find that power, prestige, and the pull of the purse are your motivators, you will have trouble. People instinctively know when you don’t care about them or don’t care about the mission.

The good news is that no matter why you started leading, it’s never too late to choose people and purpose.

You can begin by filtering your decisions through two questions: How will this serve the team? How will this help us achieve results?

If the answer to either question is ever “it won’t”…then DON’T DO IT.

One final note: we’re all human. I live in the real world and I don’t expect you, me or anyone else to not care at all about money, roles, and power. It’s part of who we are. You just want to make sure that you’re honest with yourself and put people and purpose at the top of your leadership motivations.

Remember: The more you prioritize people and purpose, the more automatic they will become, and…the more energy and motivation you will see in your team.

Your turn: leave us a comment and tell us how do you keep people and purpose at the center of your leadership?

Take care,


David Dye

About the Author:
work with leaders, managers, and supervisors who want to build teams that get more done with fewer headaches. Get free weekly tips at I tweet from @davidmdye and welcome your LinkedIn invitation. My book, The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say is available on


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *