Top-Down Leadership: What CEOs Can Do to Make a Motivated Team

Entry level employees often take their cues from those in the C-suite when it comes to motivation. Here is how to lead a motivated team at work.

A company is only as successful as the team and creating a motivated team starts at the top with the CEO.

Richard Branson has made an art out of motivating and valuing employees and it has made him a billionaire. He started a mail-order record company in his garage and worked his way up to a $3.9 billion empire.

How do you reach that level of success?

What qualities does a leader need to build a motivated team that will bring your business to new and unfathomable heights of success?

Keep reading for tips on how to create a work culture that supports and builds up a motivated team.

Accentuate the Positive

Positivity is contagious and you have the power to create a work culture and environment that inspires positivity in everyone from the janitor to the CEO by setting the example for everyone else.

People don’t generally leave a bad job, they leave a bad manager. Just as positivity is contagious, negativity is infectious. A manager or CEO with a bad attitude will inevitably pass that attitude on to the team below them.

Give Them a Reason to Love Their Career

People will be more productive if they feel like their job is more than just a paycheque. Give your team a reason to love their career and feel like they are working towards something more than just paying their bills.

Ensure your employees are aware of the benefits you have in place for them and the support you offer. Remind them of the reasons their job is more than just clocking in by giving them opportunities for advancement and growth within their current position and within the company.

You don’t want to build a team that works only to have individuals constantly leaving for better positions elsewhere. Then you’ve done all the training and given them all the experience while your competitor gets all the advantages of their skills.

Learn Their Strengths

When you want to accentuate the positive in each individual, you need to know what their strengths are and help them develop those skills by being challenged and fulfilled in their role on the team.

Your business only runs smoothly if every cog in the company wheel is separately and collectively working at its best. Knowing what each team member has to offer and how that skill set fits with the rest of the team is crucial to them reaching their full potential.

A team filled with creatives who are excellent at brainstorming is awesome when it comes to needing ideas, but if there’s no one who can turn that brainstorming session into action and organize a plan then you’re not going to accomplish much. 

Nobody’s Perfect

It doesn’t matter how incredible your team members are, no one is perfect so it’s important that you don’t expect perfection. Put safeguards in place to catch a human error.

Put together a team that compliments each other so that the qualities one person lacks, another makes up for. When mistakes happen, learn from them instead of dwelling on them, and never belittle or demean someone for being human.

Hardworking staff often experience too much pressure to be perfect causing anxiety and stress. The overwhelming fear of making a mistake not only leads to burnout, stress-related health issues, and high staff turnovers but causes unhappy and less productive staff.

Have Everyone See a Vision

People will work harder for something they believe in. It’s your job as CEO to help each member of your team see and understand the vision and mission of the company.

If you can help each employee feel passionate about the company and what it believes in they’ll have a greater desire to be a loyal team member who contributes and cares about the company success.

Mission to Save the World

Everyone wants to have a part in making the world a better place and your team will be more passionate about their role if they believe it helps accomplish this in some way.

Whether you are an eco-friendly company hoping to reduce the carbon footprint of consumers, or you donate a pair of shoes to children in third world countries for every pair sold here, your team will appreciate knowing how they are helping someone else by showing up and giving their all every day.

Envision a Bright Future

Goals are important and if your team can see a bright future for the company and themselves, they’re likely to work harder to make it happen. This can’t be some abstract idea of eventually making it big. Show them how growth is possible for them and for the company.

Offer ways for them to grow:

  • In-house promotions
  • Continuing education
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Employee Appreciation Programs
  • Opportunities to lead

When an employee feels valued and appreciated they are more likely to report being satisfied with their job. If they can see that you value their future with the company they’ll value being a part of the business because they truly feel a part of it.

Have an Open Door and Open Ears

One of the easiest ways to make your team feel like their opinion is valued is for them to feel like they have a voice that is heard and respected. Many CEOs claim to have an open-door policy but are unavailable or unwilling to listen.

This can cause frustration and even lead to resentment by employees that feel their concerns were ignored.

There are a thousand things on your to-do list which may seem like priorities over stopping and listening. You’ve got to remember though that it’s easier to do your job if everyone else is working 100% at theirs. Actively listening to staff will increase productivity and employee satisfaction.

Give Credit When Credit is Due

Your staff doesn’t just need to be listened to, they want to feel appreciated as well. A paycheque is not enough to create a motivated team. Gratitude for a job well done will have them wanting to keep up the good work and strive to do even better in the future.

Employee Recognition Programs

Sometimes all it takes is a thank you to let someone know you appreciate the job they’re doing.

Whether you do that with a plaque on the wall celebrating the employee of the week or you develop a more in-depth employee reward system when someone goes above and beyond their regular duties. 

Team Appreciation 

You can’t succeed without the success of your team so make sure you let them know you appreciate their hard work. It’s important that you not only acknowledge any individuals that excel but your team shows up and puts the work in every day.

The more they know you appreciate them as a solid team, the more they will feel like a cohesive team and feel satisfied with their contribution as an individual employee and as a part of the team.

The Right Motivated Team

A strong team can help a company weather even the most difficult of storms if they work together but it’s up to the CEO to build a team that can pull together instead of fall apart when the pressure is on.

The Right Team

You’ll find it beneficial to consider the skillset and personalities of team members when making changes to your staff and management. The best resume isn’t always the perfect fit for every environment. 

Consider this when interviewing to fill vacant spots so that you can avoid conflicts of personality and high staff turnover rates. You want the right team for your company that will work together towards accomplishing the company mission and vision.

You can’t know for sure how someone will fit or whether they’ll work out but you’ll want to devise a way to determine which candidate’s career goals and work philosophies will enhance the productivity of your team.

The Right Tools

No matter how great your team is, if you don’t give them the right tools to do their jobs, they aren’t going to be able to do their best.

You can’t expect your IT team to keep your company data safe if you won’t buy the security tools to protect your data.

Your production team can’t build the latest product if you don’t provide them with the right parts.

The Right Example

You can’t expect your team to be motivated if you’re not leading by example. A leader who doesn’t follow the same policies they enforce for everyone else won’t inspire anyone. 

Whether a team follows company security and operation policies will depend on whether they see the CEO make the most common mistakes that put the company at risk while telling them not to.

A true leader will not worry about making themselves look great, they help the rest of the team be great.

Encourage Team Building

There’s not always time in the workday for your staff to build a rapport and strengthen team bonds. Everyone is working towards a deadline or has their own to-do list they are working their way through and don’t have time to build a strong working relationship with the other people in the company.

Encouraging a positive company culture and unity through workshops, activities, retreats, and team motivating seminars or conferences can help your team get to know and trust each other more will be worth it in the long run.

A Positive Motivating Work Culture

The best thing you can do to motivate your team is to make them want to come to work. Give them a reason to enjoy their job and to want to do their best when they’re there. 

Some of the best Fortune 500 companies to work for are considered the best because of the work culture they have developed to keep their employees happy, inspired, and motivated to be productive.

It may be something small like a breakroom renovation with a new coffee machine for employees to enjoy or more elaborate such as the yoga and games rooms that companies like Google and Twitter have provided for their employees to enjoy.

Support Team Mental and Physical Health

Someone who doesn’t feel well physically or mentally is not going to contribute 100% at work. They are also going to have more time away from work due to illness or stress which leaves the rest of your team scrambling to fill the gaps.

A CEO can create a work culture that promotes mental and physical wellness rather than causing illness. One in six people will deal with a mental illness in their lives and many will be exasperated by the stresses and demands of their job. 

Stress is a risk factor for many physical and mental illnesses and often the stress of patients is because of work-related pressures. Stigma, either real or perceived, can be an issue making stress greater when it comes to mental health issues.

Creating a work culture that promotes mental and physical wellness will have your team feeling and performing at their best.

Provide Stress Relief

There are many ways that you can help relieve stress as a CEO and that will motivate your team more than anything else you could do. 

Work Environment and Office Stress Relief

Some of the things you can do during the workday to help your team perform better because they feel less stress are:

  • Stop unnecessary meetings
  • Clear and concise communication
  • Project management software
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
  • Flexible work options (remote, jobshare, etc)

Knowing your team and what their needs are will help you find ways to effectively relieve stress for them so that they can be as productive as possible for your company.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee assistance programs may seem like a big expense and logistical nightmare. They can prove to be an incredible resource that makes for a happier, healthier, more productive team. EPAs are a great way to meet the individual needs of a team by providing a diverse set of resources to relieve stress in various areas of life. 

EAPs offer a variety of resources in areas such as:

  • Education resources and advice
  • Legal assistance
  • Medical supports and resources
  • Counseling and therapy
  • Physical, Mental, and Occupational therapies
  • Massage and Holistic 

Larger companies may offer daycare services, physical fitness facilities, free meals and more to help relieve stress and make employees life just a little easier.

Reward Excellence Within a Motivated Team

A motivated team requires a CEO that can balance running a business with inspiring people. If you want a team that goes above and beyond just clocking in for their paycheck then you need to reward excellence.


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