A printable PDF can be found at the end of this article.


You have just attended an LWML meeting and cannot wait to go back to the next meeting! Why? The leader …

  • used positive communication skills
  • handled situations with a positive and fair approach
  • showed a caring attitude
  • appreciated and acknowledged individual efforts
  • listened to ideas and suggestions
  • encouraged individuals to use their God-given talents.

You have been motivated!

… by a leader who clearly understands that the mark of greatness is the ability to develop enthusiasm in other people, motivating them to their highest potential.

Leaders who motivate others know the list above identifies only a few of the many essential ingredients involved in motivating others.

Motivators …

  • are not afraid of change
  • demonstrate courage to step out or nothing will happen
  • know that success comes in "can," not "can’t"
  • know that by enriching others, you enrich yourself
  • know that challenges can help one grow
  • know motivation is not manipulating or threatening others
  • work together toward a team effort
  • bring out the other person’s point of view
  • pull ideas out of people and build them up to feel good about what they have to offer
  • give others a sense of sharing in the planning.

Motivators also …

  • keep obligations on others manageable
  • let people know help is available
  • encourage people about what they "can" do, not what they "can’t" do
  • put themselves in other people’s places and treat them likewise
  • show commitment to an individual or her abilities to do a task because they believe in her
  • recognize when they may need to modify a situation in which an individual is functioning
  • create a sense of belonging to something productive and beneficial
  • realize that a decision made by a majority may not have the same support by the minority but deal with it in a positive manner
  • do not take themselves too seriously
  • have a sense of humor
  • admit when they are in error; failure is an event, not a person
  • practice forgiveness
  • know it is not what happens to you but how you handle it that makes the difference
  • accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative
  • display confidence and belief in the organization
  • establish clear goals
  • give complete information
  • avoid making assumptions
  • display humility because they know they are working for the Lord and He should receive the glory.

Leaders who motivate others also pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit to find ways to bring out and use an individual’s God-given talents.

Communication Skills

Motivators must be aware of how vital their verbal and non-verbal communication skills are in motivating others.

Most (80%) of poor leadership decisions result from misunderstandings due to inadequate communication.

Most (87%) of the total lifetime information is gathered by sight … therefore it is important to use visual aids and positive body language.

People are motivated by

  • a leader’s body language – 55%
  • a leader’s voice inflection – 38%
  • what a leader says – 7%

People speak at the rate of 150 words per minute but can listen at the rate of 600 words per minute. This gives the mind plenty of time to wander. The average person’s attention span is only 7 to 11 minutes. Remember this as you verbally communicate to ensure that you get the audience’s full attention.

Motivators …

  • know they set the tone for the quality of communication
  • know communication is a two-way street
  • provide open communication channels
  • use listening skills
  • think about how their words may affect others
  • realize their words can be uplifting or can be a turn-off
  • evaluate their own communication skills
  • create positive communication pictures to motivate others
    • Negative: We only had two people volunteer.
    • Positive: We had two people volunteer and that’s a wonderful beginning!
  • remember that miscommunication, poor communication, or no communication can create incredible problems.

Motivation is contagious!

Motivation = motive + action

Motivate comes from the word "motive" which means "to move to action."

  • An individual can be moved by an outside force.
  • The outside force will last for a while, but something else must take over to maintain the motivation.
  • Real motivation needs to come from within.
  • Action is the end result of motivation.

Motivation is the process of energizing human behavior and directing, channeling, and maintaining that behavior.

There are three kinds of motivation:

  1. Fear
  2. Incentive
  3. Growth

Fear motivation is action taken because you are afraid of the circumstances if you do not act.

Incentive motivation is doing something based on a reward that is normally transient at the end (e.g., money, recognition).

Growth motivation is to change the thinking, the capacity, and the motivation of people. This resource focuses on growth motivation.

People who are motivated have a motive, a purpose, a reason, a cause, and they take action! 

Henry Ward Beecher describes motivation this way: "God made man to go by motives and he will not go without them anymore than a boat without steam, or a balloon without gas!"

If we ourselves are motivated, we must honestly face the real reason we do what we do.

Do you have a reason for what you do?
Have you clearly identified your reason, purpose, or motive?
Are you willing to take action for that cause?

If the answer is "yes" to all the questions above, then you are motivated! Review what motivators do, are, and think that are given at the beginning of this resource. Can you be a motivator? Will you be a motivator? Because …

Motivation is contagious — you just might start an epidemic!



Ailes, Roger. You are the Message-Secrets of the Master Communicators. McGraw-Hill School Education Group, 1987.

Erickson, Kenneth A. The Power of Communication. Concordia Publishing House, 1986. 

Haggai, John Edmund. Lead On. Word Publishing, 1986.

McGinnis, Alan Loy. Bringing Out the Best in People. Augsburg Publishing House, 1985.

Ziglar, Zig. Top Performance. Revell Publishing, 1986. Updated edition, September 1, 2004.

Enhancing Your Enthusiasm

As indicated at the beginning of this resource, a leader has the ability to develop enthusiasm in other people. You can also develop and enhance your enthusiasm. Of course, anyone can be enthusiastic when everything is going right, but the person who can remain enthusiastic is the person who will step out ahead and have plenty of striking power to get things done! Here are 13 ways to develop a lasting enthusiasm:

  1. Make up your mind. Things happen when you make up your mind!
  2. Do not save enthusiasm for special occasions — every day is special.
  3. Keep learning — by reading, using new methods, taking courses, exploring, experimenting. Be on the hunt for new ideas.
  4. Hear your own voice. Make your voice say that you are enthusiastic. Make your voice your ally. Become aware of its power!
  5. Associate with enthusiastic people. Make a list of them now!
  6. Add variety to your life: mental variety, places, hobbies, work around home. Mental and physical variety will keep you growing, interesting, and enthusiastic!
  7. Make definite plans. Cut a slice off the future. Think about it; write it out; carry it in your pocket. Do something about your plans. Talk about them to positive people only!
  8. Put a high value on yourself. "I am just as good as the other person, but not better!"
  9. Wear neat and attractive clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. You will walk better, feel better, and be more enthusiastic.
  10. Do one thing at a time. Focus your enthusiasm on one thing. You can do many things in one day, but only one thing at a time.
  11. Feel strongly on some subject. Have definite feelings. Do not always say, "I don’t know." You can be tolerant and still have definite feelings. Call on a little enthusiasm.
  12. Give people sincere appreciation and praise. Help them believe in you. Be conscious of people.
  13. Believe in God. Want Him. Need Him. Think about Him. Talk to Him like you talk to a close friend. This will help you be enthusiastic when everything seems wrong.

Revised by Leader Development Committee, 2010
Original by Annetta Dellinger, 1993
Published by Lutheran Women’s Missionary League


View printable PDF of this article, Motivation is Contagious