They already show you how...
Last Saturday, I received tickets to the live-stream of the EntreLeadership 1Day Conference. Among the many excellent lessons was one on building motivated teams. The core point in this presentation was the need for the leader to know their team. Not their skills, but who they are as people. A leader needs to know the dreams and hopes of his team, and to learn how best to motivate them. For some that is recognition, for others that might be increased autonomy. But in all cases for the team to be effective the Leader needs to know his people.
After some reflection on this concept, I stumbled on a question. Is it effective to ask people 'what motivates you'? My gut was telling me no. You might create a bad precedent. Or you might run into people who could not articulate what adds fuel to their fire.
So I took this question to one of my mentors, who offered an awesome bit of practical insight. He started his answer by drawing my attention back to a topic we'd covered before. For a sound career, you need a strong foundation. If married, that means building a strong, loving and supportive marriage. A strong marriage needs strong communication, even in the way's you try to love your wife. For this he recommended reviewing the '5 Love Languages'. People tend to speak their 'native' or preferred love languages to their partner. But it is not always their partner's 'native' language, so we can miss when trying to love one another. But if you pay attention, your partner will show you what their 'native' language is. Just watch how they try to love you! In a similar way, you can see how people understand the celebration of success. Do they praise your accomplishment? Words of Affirmation. Do they drop off a donut at your desk the next day? Receiving Gifts. Did they invite you for a beer after work? Quality time.
But to see these actions for what they are, the leader needs to be engaged, and prepare to look for them. If you are to love and care for your team, you need to know them, and what drives them. Thankfully they are telling you how best to speak to them already. You only need to listen.