March 4

Does the Boss Need To Regularly Inspire the Team?


I coached a group of 8th grade girls this Winter. This is the first year coaching girls and I had fun.

Around the midle of the season, after practice was done, one of the players asked if she could ask me some questions about why I do certain things. One of the topics was around ways I could inspire more competition and effort during practice.

This player has been on high level teams where the coaches have been much more vocal and demonstrative, exhorting the players for constant effort and energy. It was a bit easier for those coaches to get energy and effort from that team due to its makeup. That team was filled with quality, competitive players. They were also in a situation where the primary goal was to bring forth performance that would win games on the scoreboard.

Building the fire within will allow you to go much further down your path

My philosophy on youth coaching as well as leadership of adults is to take the time and effort to help build the fire within each individual so that they will have the intrinsic motivation to go down their path in ways that are unique to them and at a pace that exceeds what I could do driving it from them.

I choose to recognize and reward the good work and habits that are occuring rather than criticizing the lack of something. This will build strong habits based on desired performance and will allow bad habits to fade as they are not acknowledged or used. There are obviously times I call out a lack of effort (as well as a great expression of effort) as a lack of Love for themselves, one another and the game. However, I am not necessarily focused on driving effort. If I do that, I have less time to teach.

One of the reasons I work to fuel the intrisic motivation of the players I coach is that, when these kids grow up, there won't be bosses around to regularly exhort effort and inspiration. If the laboratory of the basketball court can help players learn how to find and build the fire within them, I've done my job as a leader and coach.

Leaders need to build intrinsic motivation also.

Through my years of leadership and coaching, I've seen the same circumstances around building intrinsic motivation within employees, at whatever level they are found. 

When employees start out their careers, they generally have an interest to make an impact. Some leaders complain that younger people are not all that motivated and are more interested in getting a promotion and being a part of higher-level discussions. That is a complaint centered around intrinsic motivation. Leaders don't feel like they should have to work to motivate employees, even if they felt they had the time. It wasn't given to them and they turned out fine.

Well, I'm sorry to say that it is the leader's job, but not in the basic way you might think.

Employees at all levels are searching, just like the kids I coach or those we all raise, who have fears about whether or not they can do something or persevere through a situation. They know less about what it really takes to be successful in their role than you give them credit for. Left to their own devices, some will get it. Many will not and will struggle. Is it their fault, or yours? Is it the kids fault they don't gain the motivation to take on the game of basketball with love and passion? Is it the young employee's fault they don't grasp how to work effectively in your eyes?

The burden is not all on you

The job of building intrinsic motivation can't rest completely on your shoulders, even with the employees directly in your charge. You can work on building a team or organization where the work of helping build intrinsic motivation gets ingrained with every member. There are several benefits of such an effort, including:

  • A new employee sees a positive, motivating environment and wants to assimilate into it.
  • The gorup is aligned and committed to helping others successful.
  • Each person has the motivation to become a quality leader in their own way, committed to a common goal and striving for excellence and success.

Your role in this effort may be connecting with leaders along the line to find out how others are building intrinsic motivation in others. Checking in on the process others are taking will help you lead others, but will also bring forth a level of accountability with the process, ensuring proper actions are taken.

When you have an army of intrinsically motivated employees who are interested in building others, you have a well oiled machine that will do increadible things for the organization and themselves.


basketball, leadership, motivation

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