What Mark Zuckerberg Taught Me About Motivation

Photograph by Paul Bradbury via Getty Images

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you keep your team motivated? is written by Suri Suriyakumar, CEO of ARC Document Solutions.

The best leaders work to motivate themselves, as well as their employees, to achieve success. Once inspired, the clear articulation of a plan for the future – whether it’s for a quarterly operations goal or a multi-year strategic objective – isn’t easy. It takes preparation, perseverance, and a solid understanding of both what needs to be said and why it needs to be said in the first place. Here’s how to create a motivational workplace that will drive success:

Effective communication
To motivate people, you must invest in them and enable their success. And if you want results, you must do more than just communicate — you have to articulate your vision in a way that inspires others. You might have a good idea, but clearly communicating it is nearly as important as the idea itself. Only when you combine the two can you expect to overcome the fear of failure, inspire confidence, and build support in new possibilities.

See also: This Is the Worst Way to Motivate Your Employees

Build trust
I listen as much, if not more, than I talk. Your people’s insights are valuable, and their concerns show where motivation is most needed. By paying attention to the way I communicate, I establish credibility with my colleagues so that they hear, accept, and support our company’s shared vision. Essentially, I’m building trust. With trust, the stories I tell of how we’ve succeeded in the past and how much we’ve accomplished resonate. They stand as reminders and provide proof of what’s possible. Then, when it’s time for a pep talk, I’ve got history on my side. My ideas aren’t just pie in the sky. What I describe is truly what we are capable of achieving, and it reinforces my staff that we are the best at what we do.

Find sources for motivation
I am inspired, and thus motivated, by the success of other companies and individuals. IBM (IBM) and Ginni Rometty; Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZN); Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook (FB); and many others in both startup and established business environments. These are examples of people and companies that have overcome challenges, stories in which an underdog triumphs over adversity, and the importance of a relentless desire to win. I use these examples to inspire my colleagues as well.

Work together
If someone tells me I can’t do something — 0r that the odds are against me — I’m not only inspired to prove them wrong, I’ll motivate others to win with me. Several years ago, when our industry went through a significant downturn, there were many doomsayers predicting our demise. Our market had been gutted, our business model was in the midst of a huge transition, and revenue was falling. But I knew we could still be successful. Where others saw danger, I saw opportunity. Where others thought we should be cautious, I reminded my team of the risks we had taken in the past to be successful and we could do it again. The ideas were powerful. I took the time to be as clear as I could and ensure I was speaking to the issues that could make the most difference. It doesn’t sound like rocket science, and it’s not. This approach takes a lot of work but when done right it certainly pays off.

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