As a leader, you know that a motivated and engaged team is crucial for your organization’s success.

But have you ever wondered why some employees remain unmotivated despite your best efforts? It’s because motivation is an inside job – you can’t force it from the outside.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the reasons why managers often try to motivate people through external incentives, rewards, and praise – and why it doesn’t always work.

We’ll explore what leaders can do to create an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation and how to empower employees to motivate themselves. Join us and learn how to overcome the challenge of employee motivation!

“You can’t motivate someone else — motivation is an inside job” is a widely accepted leadership axiom. So why do managers keep trying to motivate people from the outside in? Why do they attempt to manipulate behavior by incentivizing goals with tangible and intangible rewards? Why do they praise, hand out tokens and award badges to drive good behavior, hoping to perpetuate it?

love my job concepts with text on light box on desk table in home office.

As a leader, you understand that having a motivated and engaged team is critical for your organization’s success. You may have tried every trick in the book to motivate your employees, from offering incentives to giving inspirational speeches.

But, despite your best efforts, you may have found that some of your employees remain unmotivated. In this podcast, we will explore why you can’t motivate employees and what a leader can do to overcome this challenge.


The reason why you can’t motivate employees is simple – motivation comes from within.

While you can create an environment that fosters motivation, it’s ultimately up to the individual employee to feel motivated. Employees have their unique drivers, values, and goals, which impact their motivation levels.

Moreover, many employees may feel demotivated due to factors beyond their own control, such as workplace culture, leadership style, and lack of opportunities for growth and development. In such cases, external motivators like incentives in the form of contests, bonuses, etc may provide temporary relief, but they won’t address the underlying issue.

You can impact motivation with your leadership and communication style. However, if you have drained the emotional bank account, it is almost impossible to refill it.

So please be aware of your words, actions, and fairness and, most of all, catch them doing it right more than catching their mistakes and make that a steady diet and your ability to influence your team to be more inspired and driven will flourish.


As a leader, it’s essential to recognize that you cannot motivate your employees. Instead, you can create an environment that fosters motivation, growth, and development. Here are some strategies that can help you overcome the challenge of motivating employees:

Set clear expectations: Employees are more likely to feel motivated when they know what’s expected of them. Ensure that each employee understands their role and responsibilities and the goals they’re expected to achieve.

Provide growth opportunities: Employees are more likely to feel motivated when they have opportunities for growth and development. Ensure each employee has a clear path to advancement and the necessary resources to develop their skills.

Foster a positive workplace culture: Workplace culture can significantly impact employees’ motivation levels. Ensure that your workplace culture fosters collaboration, respect, and recognition for a job well done.

Communicate regularly: Regular communication can help you understand what motivates each employee and how you can help them achieve their goals. Ensure that you provide regular feedback and recognition for a job well done.

As a leader, it’s essential to recognize that you cannot motivate employees. Instead, you can create an environment that fosters motivation, growth, and development.

By setting clear expectations, providing growth opportunities, fostering a positive workplace culture, and communicating regularly, you can create an environment that encourages your employees to feel motivated and engaged. Remember, motivation comes from within, but as a leader, you have the power to create an environment that fosters it.

And when leaders run out of carrots (or people get tired of them), why resort to the stick? Why apply pressure, instill fear and make threats (often without realizing that’s what they’re doing)?

If you can relate to the questions above, you are not alone. Leaders often whisper the truth of their experience to me — they know these traditional tactics aren’t effective for motivating people.

I propose two answers to why you might continue relying on the same tactics even when your lived experience shows you they fall apart in the long run and impede creativity and well-being (and more) in the short run.

Answer #1: You’re in a pickle
Have you ever given in to a child’s public tantrum, even if it meant going against your parental instincts and values? We’ve all been there – desperate to avoid a humiliating meltdown in public.

Similarly, the pressure to hold employees accountable can lead to a desperate mentality, resulting in traditional tactics of rewards and threats.

But, let’s face it, these external and imposed motivational approaches have been proven to be inferior forms of motivation. So why do we keep using them?

This is a sign of Desperation, my friend.

Answer #2: You’re clueless
I once had a sales manager confide in me that he was about to announce incentives for his team’s new product sales, knowing my stance on rewards fully well. When I asked why he was offering incentives, he couldn’t give me a solid answer. It was just what they always did.

The good news is that motivation science offers a better alternative – creating a workplace that fulfills people’s foundational psychological needs for choice, connection, and competence, These are all required human needs for optimal motivation. And the even better news? You can develop leadership skills to make it happen.

You want to be better at driving a happy, engaged, productive workplace but just don’t know how. Welcome to a very large club, yall. At Results Driven Leadership, we can provide you, or if you are a business owner or executive, your team with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to drive a happy and self-motivated workforce.

Contact us at, and let’s talk about your challenges. I’m betting we can help you turn on some lights and find your way.

So what is A better answer: YOU have the power to make a difference.

Now as I’ve made clear, you can’t want it more than they do. Research shows that you can’t motivate people,

But you can shape their motivational outlook through leadership.

As a leader, your role is crucial in creating conditions that encourage choice, deepen connection, and build competence.

Doing so improves the likelihood that your team will achieve their goals for the right reasons and experience well-being along the way.

So, stop relying on carrots and sticks and start focusing on creating an environment that fosters optimal motivation. With your leadership skills, you have the power to make a real difference in your team’s success and well-being.

Start here. Learn your leadership and communication style. Take a Free DISC assessment and discover yours. It will take you all of 15 minutes, and then we can go through the assessment with you and help you put your challenges into perspective. You can learn what you are doing wrong and how to adapt to being a much more inspirational leader. Click on the link in the show notes.

It’s time for all of us to be the drivers of our own motivation and have it fuel our ambitions. Don’t let yourself be held back by a lack of understanding about what inspires you as an employee. Mastering employee motivation includes creating an environment that fosters greater self-awareness–for both you and your team members–so you can take control of your productivity and success. Learning techniques such as task customization, continuous feedback, recognition, and rewards will help ensure everyone is engaged with their job duties and motivated to excel.

Please take advantage of the free DISC Assessment, then share and like this post to spread awareness of how important it is to stay energized at work. Remember that when your workers are engaged, they bring forward greater potential – potential to grow together, both in tasks done well and profits earned!