Most organizations are looking forward to developing motivational leadership to drive their agile transformation. It is often said that newly hired employees are highly motivated while they need to develop the competencies required for the new role. Usually during the process of developing new competences within organizations people lose their internal motivation and they need to be motivated from the outside. Within current cultures and climates, the most common as well as effective external motivation is money, but is not sustainable neither for keeping people motivated in the long term nor from operational cost’s perspective. Motivational leadership is not about replacing the external motivation factors but reconnecting people with their internal motivation which usually was there in beginning but the cultural fit either severely diminished or completely eliminated it. On the other hand, the talent development process must be transformed to keep alive internal motivation while developing new skills not only in the new hires but also in those already part of the organization. By transforming leadership style and talent development, the organizational culture will be transformed towards a motivational based one, here some hints to kick off the journey.

Reconnecting people with their internal motivation

With so many leadership frameworks in the market, it is important for leaders not no see motivational leadership as the new flavour of the month. In fact, is not about dropping off all previous knowledge and models to start from the scratch with a new one, on the contrary leaders must use all the tools they have to engage their teams. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for motivational leaders are those team members highly specialized who are performing according the expectations and although they are accountable, they are not fully engage. The first skill that a motivational leader needs to develop is coaching to lead from “asking” instead of “telling”, this ability is essential to help team members to discover by themselves where their motivation lays on as well as which is the best way to perform. The second key skill is delegation, a motivational leader should be able not only to delegate tasks but also decisions to empower team members. By coaching and empowering the job is enriched hence driving motivation and developing self-driven team members through trustworthy relationships which required motivational leaders to be both physically and emotionally nearby its team. The third essential ability is to give and receive feedback in order to model team member’s behaviour through appreciative and constructive feedback, as well as to become a role model through active listening the feedback that receives. An agile operating model requires short feedback loops from motivational leaders in order to reduce the management cycle.

Developing new skills while keeping alive motivation

Although there are talent development areas, this essential process is performed either in a formal or non-formal fashion across all the organization. As mentioned, recently hired team members have usually high motivation but they need to develop new skills, therefore it is important to sustain internal motivation during the talent development process. To begin with, people must interact with its tasks while developing new skills to be engaged, also this is a great opportunity to review already existing ways of working. Moreover, it is when people can’t apply its creativity and propose improvements to the new tasks they are learning when disengagement begins. What is more, if tasks and decisions are seeing within a team context instead of an individual one, it is easier to align work with interests in a dynamic way which will create also flexibility. Furthermore, a team perspective of results can encourage team members to adopt new roles or improve their work in order to achieve better performance results. Therefore, it is important to put the talent development process within a team as well as an organizational context, where search of alignment between jobs and interests as well as performance feedback can drive meaningful talent development to increase flexibility within the organization.

Building a motivational based organizational culture

Firstly, it is important to remind that motivational leadership kick offs the culture shaping through coaching, empowering and feedback. Moreover, having leaders close to people will strengthen bonds between each other as well as reduce management cycles which combined will bring more agility. Secondly, a dynamic approach to tasks, decisions and results within an organizational context will allow a better fit between talent, interests and jobs, to sustain both engagement and motivation. Furthermore, it is by creating a flexible talent development process that flexibility is built within the organization to operate in an agile model. However, for the organization can develop a motivational based culture is not enough with the transformation of leadership and talent development. Instead of having only implicit “values” in a declaration the organization must have also explicit “behaviours” lived on daily basis that can be observed and measured as well as modeled through a rewards and recognition program. A motivational based organizational culture will be achieved when internal motivation grows within people after joining the organization through not only motivational leadership but also meaningful talent development with a personal and team purposes. To conclude, it is through a motivational culture that the organization will have agility to drive performance not only in the short but also in the long-term.

Thanks for Reading.

Marcelo Sauro is an internationally experienced performance and improvement senior manager. He holds an Executive MBA and Master of Science degrees and has helped people and organizations to transform themselves. Not only he led E2E transformations in Global Business Services, R&D, Supply Chain and Finance organizations at all levels within the LATAM and EMEA Regions, but he is also experienced in several industries including Life Science, Healthcare, Insurance, Fintech, Technology, Telecoms, FMCG, Chemicals, Automotive, Energy and Mining. Since 2015, he has been researching and developing content in agile and resilience through Value Ways, while working under contract for customers such as MetLife, Novartis, Vertiv (Emerson NP) and Experian among others. Previously, he worked for more than 7 years as Master Black Belt for a LATAM-based consulting group, which had ASQ, Qualtec and Oriel as business partners. Prior to that, he worked for more than 10 years at BASF and GSK in positions of growing responsibility in the area of Operational Excellence. Marcelo is currently working at Ferring's “International PharmaScience Center” (IPC) for the Global R&D organization in Copenhagen. To find out more please visit

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