Motivate People Don’t Manipulate People

Being logical stimulates a person’s mind. Being motivational stimulates a person’s heart.

Have you ever been manipulated within your team? Have you ever seen any of your teammates or colleagues be manipulated? I have been manipulated, and the thing is, I knew I was being manipulated. I just didn’t have the courage at the time to challenge back and intercept the manipulation. It is not a nice feeling.

Manipulation is a very negative and selfish act. When you manipulate your teammates, you are negatively influencing them for your own personal needs. When you manipulate your teammates it causes anger within the team and resentment. Your teammates will lose trust in you very quickly if you manipulate them.

1. Motivating Not Manipulating

Highly effective leaders will never try to manipulate a teammate, or anyone else within their organisation. A highly effective leader will only ever try to motivate their team. By motivating your teammate you are looking for a win/win situation for both. It is a very positive and selfless act.

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When you motivate your teammates it makes the team happy, and they will take pleasure in being influenced by you. When you motivate your teammates you are building trust within the team, and your influence will increase.

Whenever you have been motivated, it has come from something outside of yourself. Motivation is external. So, it requires somebody, or something to carry out an act that motivates you. For example, a motivational video on You Tube. You have been motivated by the video, e.g. the video is the external thing that has motivated you.

When something external has caused you to take a certain action with your team, you are motivated. When something internal from within yourself has caused you to take a certain action with your team, you are inspired. Inspiration is internal and comes from within yourself.

Even though I have been manipulated by some of my line managers and team mates, I have also been motivated a lot more. I have worked with some highly effective team players, and leaders, and they were great at motivating me.

A highly effective leader knows how to motivate their team because, like me, they have been part of teams and worked with other highly effective leaders who were able to motivate them. So they have a lot of experience in motivation.

When you motivate a teammate, you enable them to take a certain action because of you. As a highly effective leader, the fact that you are part of their team motivates them.

2. Leading By Example

When I became a manager in 2009 and started to lead teams, I found it difficult to motivate the team initially. It felt like me being the manager wasn’t making any difference, and that the team were doing everything the same as we were before. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to help the team improve.

The team I led were technicians and their job was to maintain trains. This is a very technical job, but the environment can be de-motivating. Especially when you are underneath a train getting filthy, and you see managers walking by you wearing a suit on the way up to their nice, clean, warm office.

That was me when I first took my managers job. However, I realised that if I was to motivate my team, I needed to lead from the front and by example. So, one or two days a week, I would put my overalls on, and I would work with the team on the workshop floor.

I would get underneath the trains doing inspections, and trying to fix any problems. I even went out into service to visit broken down trains. I wanted to motivate the team, and I thought the only way to do that was to be on the same level as the team.

I didn’t want to be some “ivory tower” line manager. I wanted to be a motivating leader. I wanted to be a highly effective leader.

3. Know Your Responsibilities As Leader

I think it’s very important that if you are a line manager, team leader, or a supervisor, you must also be striving towards becoming a highly effective leader. It was my responsibility to lead the team, and results were my responsibility.

But, it was also my responsibility to motivate the team, and the best way I believe to motivate a team is to lead from the front, and lead by example. By helping the team and working in the same dirty environment as them, and seeing things from their level definitely did motivate the team.

The camaraderie between the team improved, we hung out socially a lot more, and we trusted each other. That is what a highly effective leader does.

One of the main tasks I worked on with the team was re-building the train bogies. The bogies are what hold the wheels and axles in place, along with other safety critical equipment. Our team had a bogie expert, so I took the lead from him. I could see that he really enjoyed leading his leader, and it motivated him a lot.

The rest of the team fed off watching their leader being led, and they too took motivation from it. I was being led and influenced, but at the same time my own influence increased. Being part of the bogie building team, and helping them where they needed it enabled us to improve and fix more trains in one week than we had before.

All because we were highly motivated.

I must say I had a lot of fun being part of that team, and they had a lot of fun working with me too. Every Monday we had a team brief and we would discuss the work we did the previous week. The team were excited to present their results because they were always improving each week.

I made sure I sat out of the briefing and let the team run with it.

We set our own targets, and I vowed to work alongside the team on the workshop floor and “get my hands dirty” every week. I did this because I knew this was the best way to motivate my team, and most of all it was so much fun.

4. Recognise When You Are Being Manipulated

I’ve also been part of teams who were manipulated more than motivated. As I discussed earlier, I have been victim to manipulation. When I was engineering technical manager in London, my line manager manipulated me very aggressively.

He was using his position of authority trying to persuade me that I needed to fallout with my colleagues, and blame them for things that were going wrong. Manipulation was the norm in that company and I was oblivious to it even happening.

So I went along with my line manager and I began to fallout with people and blame them when things went wrong.

In the end it backfired on me, and I started to get blamed for a lot of things. So after a while, I almost broke down and I left the company.

Manipulation is a very selfish act, and when it happens to you it is highly embarrassing. It causes you to lose all your confidence in yourself, and any hope that you had.

Motivation is the complete opposite. It is a very selfless act, and when motivating another person, you are looking for mutual benefit and a win/win situation. It gives the other person more confidence, it fills them with hope, and most of all it makes the other person and yourself happy.

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A highly effective leader will never use their position of authority to manipulate their team. They will use their position of authority to motivate the team, which will ultimately inspire the team.

Highly effective leaders who don’t have a position of authority can still motivate and influence their team. They can do this because of their character. They work on their character every single day to ensure it is the highest level it can be. Character is what brings out the best in everyone, especially highly effective leaders.

Having the ability to motivate your teammates is a must for a highly effective leader. By working on your character every day, your influence will keep increasing and your ability to motivate will continue to improve.

Dictate from the back and people will run away from you. Lead from the front and your team will follow you.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (Lead, Grow, Influence)

21 thoughts on “Motivate People Don’t Manipulate People

  1. Hi Tom and thanks for another very thought inspiring article.
    It really got me to thinking of situations where I was being manipulated rather than motivated or being driven from my own inspiration. I think when you dig deep into these issues it comes down to core values of integrity and honesty. People who manipulate – and this can be from all levels – from superiors, peers or supervisees – adopt a transactional approach to the work and team environment. They approach work as a zero sum game and operate on the basis that their gain can only come at someone else’s loss. I’ve had people like that in my team and I see my task as trying to show, demonstrate, illustrate etc how much more effective it is to look for win win solutions and adopt an approach with that basic premise at its foundation. It is an uphill struggle though. Thanks again for a great article. Best wishes, Andy

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found the article valuable.

      You are right, when someone is manipulating another, they are definitely wanting to gain at the expense of someone else. They do not have the mindset of a win-win situation. They want a win-lose situation.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Thank you for this informational post. I think this is a post that every single person should read. I am shocked by how many people think that they are better than others and can manipulate them. Everyone are equal no matter gender, religion or financial status. This article should really go out to the world and open people’s eyes.

    1. Hi Delqna,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found the article valuable.

      It’s great to hear that you think everyone should read this article because it tells me that you do not agree with manipulating people. You are so right, everyone should be treated equally, and we cannot take advantage of others who are in a weaker position to us.

      Thank you for your kind words, I really do appreciate it.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. What a wonderful article Tom. Your willingness to fight with your team in the trenches and to be led by a team member represent a strong and self-assured manager.
    I was given the responsibility of leading teams very early in my career (I’m one of the fancy MBAs people love to hate) and for I have invariably struggled to gain trust and respect from my team for the initial part of most assignments (who likes kow towing to someone much younger).
    I wish I’d come across your article then – life would have been so much simpler.
    Anyway thanks for the great share.

    1. Hi Joshi,

      Thank you for your comment and for your kind words. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your experience of leading teams early in your career. I had the same and it is not easy at all. It is extremely difficult but if you can come through it and keep working on yourself, then you are on the right path to becoming a highly effective leader.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hi Tom, I have been manipulated and you are right does not help anyone, least of all the company. Sadly this happens a lot. I enjoy reading your blog, it brings to me a lot of inspiration to move past this aspect. Regards Barry

    1. Hi Barry,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m really pleased that you are inspired to move forward.

      Most people have been manipulated before in their career’s. It’s unfortunate but it’s something we can move past just like you have.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Great article man. Love the quote at the end, it is so true. I have been on teams and I have lead teams. Nothing worse then a leader who thinks it is their God given right to lead and does so by tossing commands around. Lead by example, show your team you are in the fray with them and there for them and that you have their backs no matter what and the team will respond accordingly. Cheers

    1. Hi Robb,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m so pleased you found the article helpful.

      You are so right, leading by example and from the front is the only way to lead. Boss’s stand at the back and don’t get their hands dirty. Leaders lead from the front and get stuck in with the team. Just like you have said.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom

    Another great and inspiring article. There certainly is a time for discipline however it should always be carried out effectively and not in a manipulating way. Your article highlights this beautifully. Excellent post.

    1. Hi Russ,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Discipline should definitely be carried out effectively, and a win-win conclusion must be in the front of mind. We should not have manipulation at front of mind.

      Thanks for the insight.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hi Tom! Thank you for sharing your personal story in this post!
    I’m totally agree with you! As I mentioned that we must inspire people around us when they need inspirations and motivations! It’s really selfish when we try to manipulate their thoughts, feelings and actions. Everyone have the rights to have their own decisions.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Jolly,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you agree with my points in the article.

      Inspiration and motivation is so important if we want our people to work to their best. Manipulation is not the way to help our people be their best.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi Tom! Thank you for sharing your personal story in this post!
    I’m totally agree with you! As I mentioned that we must inspire people around us when they need inspirations and motivations! It’s really selfish when we try to manipulate their thoughts, feelings and actions. Everyone have the rights to have their own decisions.

    Great post!

  9. Tom,

    I just love the title of this post. Being logical stimulates a person’s mind. Being motivational stimulates a person’s heart. 🙂 This is very true. As a leader, we surely want to be the role model for the team. Definitely don’t want to manipulate our team into doing all the work without motivating them, showing them how to get the job done as a team to reach the common goals, helping them to go back on track if things don’t seem to go as planned.

    Manipulating is not the same as delegating. Maybe some people are confused between the two. But a true leader will know how to differentiate them.

    Thank you for another inspirational post.

    1. Hi Ferra,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m so pleased you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you agree with my points and that you don’t believe in manipulation. Manipulation is not the way to help our people be their best. Motivation and inspiration is the only way.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Great article, packed with valuable information. I like the way you differentiate the difference between motivation and manipulation. This article is thought provoking and inspirational.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found the article inspirational.

      That is what I am going for. I want to inspire you and my other readers to learn and put that into action.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hi and thank you for your in-depth article on a topic that never ceases to amaze me having had mixed experiences in the workplace. I found it interesting where you discuss manipulating teams v motivating teams – this is so true and you just.

    I quote what you wrote:

    “Motivation is the complete opposite. It is a very selfless act, and when motivating another person, you are looking for mutual benefit and a win/win situation. It gives the other person more confidence, it fills them with hope, and most of all it makes the other person and yourself happy.

    A highly effective leader will never use their position of authority to manipulate their team. They will use their position of authority to motivate the team, which will ultimately inspire the team”.

    This is rings so true and very powerful and written with clear insight.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ola,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m so pleased you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you have quoted the part of the article that you found interesting.

      If you would like to know more or need any advice then don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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