In a disrupted global economy, employee motivation factors heavily into the success of any business. Motivation – the innate drive to bring in the desired level of energy, dedication, and innovation to an organisation consistently – is affected by several factors. In today’s day and age, one of the factors has been the pandemic, which has left modern-day employees with little motivation to deliver at their jobs.
This situation is likely to exacerbate in the coming months as C-level leaders across the globe are looking to further reduce flexibility and growth opportunities for employees amidst economic uncertainty. According to the latest LinkedIn Global Talent Trends survey, 86% of such business leaders in India are concerned with the resulting negative impact on employee motivation.
So, how do leaders get employee motivation back on track? The answer might lie in a leadership style that today’s C-suite executives should embrace: transformational leadership. This leadership style is all about aligning yourself with the goals and aspirations of your employees. Naturally, a big part of transformational leadership is ensuring higher levels of employee motivation so that your teams remain committed to the business vision and culture through intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
If you are eager to develop the right leadership skills to raise the spirits of your employees, then you must begin by understanding the importance of transformational leadership and how it affects motivation.
Deciphering the Impact of Transformational Leadership Style on Motivation
A key element of transformational leadership is that it encourages members of a workforce to not only participate but also inspire them to become leaders themselves. Famous transformational leaders have always been ones who have shown how to harness the true potential of human resources by being accessible and empowering leaders. This way, any growth of the individual means more productive, confident, and skilled employees at work, stimulating the business’s development.
Research also suggests that transformational leaders have a sizeable impact on keeping the team morale and motivation high, resulting in:
- Higher performance: Teams managed by transformational leaders perform better and are happier than groups headed by other types of leaders.
- Better welfare: Employees who recognised a greater level of transformational leadership in their workplaces reported better levels of well-being. Even after researchers adjusted for characteristics associated with happiness, such as work stress, education, and age, the impact remained substantial.
- Greater sense of accomplishment: This is due to transformational leaders’ belief that their employees can accomplish their best when given the responsibility, autonomy, and freedom to think out of the box and take ownership.
Transformational leadership is, therefore, all about connecting individual objectives with the aspirations of the business – and this is achieved through the right motivation. How can you, as one amongst many aspiring Indian entrepreneurs, achieve this goal? By focusing on the four key principles of transformational leadership: idealised influence, intellectual stimulation, inspired motivation, and individualised consideration.
Increasing Motivation by Becoming a Role Model and Engaging the Mind
Developing idealised influence is essential for motivating your employees in the right way. If you regularly suggest creative solutions, develop novel insights, work with great efficiency and discipline, and always praise and encourage others, your team will soon follow suit. The motivation here is to be like the leader – their role model – by mirroring them.
Parallelly, one must also invest in the intellectual stimulation of employees. We all recognise that motivation is a mental drive. Thus, if Indian entrepreneurs can stimulate the minds of their employees by giving them new challenges and providing them with risk-taking, and creative liberty, then employees find the right intellectual environment to blossom.
In this regard, Sanjiv Bajaj is often mentioned as one of the best Indian entrepreneurs and most famous transformational leaders in India for his ability to drive organisational success by placing the onus on the employees. As the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv and the President of CII (2022-23), Sanjiv Bajaj has managed to build one of India’s most successful financial service providers by motivating employees to embrace ‘owner-like thinking’. Bajaj Finserv employees across all levels enjoy the freedom to take creative risks to solve customer and operational challenges and innovate the next big fintech product. Sanjiv Bajaj has also created micro-teams, named Centers of Excellence, that lead independent projects and create unique innovations to stimulate them intellectually.
Increasing Motivation via Intrinsic Factors and Interacting on an Individual Level
We tend to believe that motivation is mainly linked to performance instead of earning a reward. But transformational leadership takes it one step further by fostering intrinsic motivation amongst employees. This occurs by nurturing a sense of purpose through work and a lot of care for your business’s vision at heart. If you can define your business’s vision and mission in a value-driven way and provide the right objectives to your employees, which fills them with a feeling of accomplishing excellence for the greater good, you will be able to increase their motivation significantly. Then, intrinsic worth begins to take shape, and employees can evaluate their efforts for the business holistically rather than as a reward-based method.
Uday Kotak – Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Executive Vice Chairman and Managing Director – is a prime example. One of the best transformational leaders in India, Uday Kotak’s leadership style focuses on developing and executing a team with a single goal – building ground-breaking digital finance and customer-centric services that help create trust in the bank’s customers and enable financial security and convenience for millions. This purpose acts as a key motivator, making employees realise their responsibility towards the financial health of the country and bolstering economic growth for the masses. Combined with performance-driven rewards and incentives, such a strategy has proven to be a hit in taking Kotak to new heights.
Lastly, the ability to motivate employees successfully via transformational leadership comes from recognising individuality. Every employee is different, with a unique set of skills, ambitions, personality and behavioural traits. Thus, they respond to other motivational techniques and nuances. This is what famous transformational leaders can recognise early. By honing in on your employees’ expectations, shortcomings, and aspirations, you can develop personalised training and rewards to elevate their spirit and commitment to your cause.
Transformational leadership can only work if you are genuine about your business vision and the way you interact and engage with your employees. For employees to function in a highly motivated manner, they must find their workspace and its culture genuine while also being able to view their leaders as role models. That said, a transformational leadership model is a well-proven approach to channelling the best of people and relies upon their potential to drive business success.
Therefore, Indian entrepreneurs and business leaders must adopt the transformational leadership approach to foster a healthy work atmosphere – especially during uncertain economic circumstances. A part of such a role is being open-minded, encouraging, rewarding, and never too shy to praise employee effort and successes. All this should occur in tandem with engaging ways of instilling the business vision and purpose within the team while shifting the focus from extrinsic rewards to intrinsic motivation.