“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” -Nelson Mandela

Diversity in a team is a given and there are many reasons behind what makes us all different. One of the key factors is that we are all motivated by different things and in different ways. That is the magic of a diverse team; we can complement one another and leverage each other’s strengths. This sounds easier said than done and in fact, it is, unless you learn to decode the true motivators of each individual and tap into these to satisfy what lights each individual up.

There are many deep and intrinsic things that motivate us all and keep in mind there is no right or wrong, the key is in leveraging motivations as a team and where possible tapping into each individual which in turn can increase productivity, energy and fulfilment.

Let’s look at a common pair of motivators that come up day to day with many of my clients.

“Jamie” has been given a project, he capable, competent and consistent in his work. You, as his manager, have explained the project in detail and scoped out a plan together. When you check in Jamie is still looking through the brief and addressing what could go wrong, the problems he sees and the potential pitfalls of the project.  You have addressed these in the initial briefing yet he is still focusing on these.

Sound familiar?

Jamie is more focused on “problem Solving” opposed to being “goal oriented.” There is nothing wrong with this, he is just more motivated to look for problems as this is his natural preference and he is good at it.   As a manager, you need to get him to a goal but also motivate him by getting him to solve the problems along the way in order to achieve that goal. Talking about a goal or dangling a carrot won’t motivate Jamie as he has a preference leaning more towards problems solving. This can vary in scale; in this instance, Jamie is highly motivated by solving problems. He likes to look for problems and focus on what could go wrong.

Matching language is powerful in motivating colleagues and individuals in your team. Someone like Jamie, someone who is highly motivated by problem solving can be motivated accordingly. This can be very powerful when used verbally and in written communications. You can even identify this motivator when reading an email from someone high on this pattern. Words you could use include: Problems, errors, potential pitfalls, uneasy, concerns. When we match the preference of others this builds subliminal rapport and what is know as mind mapping, which means you are matching how he is thinking.

“Anna” is sitting in a quarterly team meeting. The targets and objectives are set and before the presentation is over Anna is already packing up and heading for the door. Jamie is asking how the number can be achieved and his concern about this and Anna is ready to go! Anna is highly “Goal Oriented”, she likes to get, gain and achieve and stays focused on the goal easily, this is what keeps her focused. She needs and loves goals, without them there is no direction and she could become very unmotivated.  Words that may keep Anna motivated include: achieve, gain, goal, focus, towards, get, obtain and outcome.

As you can see both Jamie and Anna can and will achieve what they need to but will need to be motivated in different ways that can lead to the same outcome.  One of your roles as a leader is to motivate and by tapping into motivation on an individual level you can really propel and develop the team and its overall performance.

If you are interested in finding out what really motivates your team we run a “Mapping Motivation for Success” program. All individuals are profiled using the iWAM tool and a 1-day dynamic and interactive team workshop is run that unpacks individual and team results and ways to complement each other moving forward. Each attendee receives a 1:1 Coaching debrief post workshop and a team folder of all results and language to use.

Kind Regards

Renée Giarrusso


 “The Top Fifteen Percent Leader”

A dynamic interactive leadership program, run as an openly facilitated program 3 hours a month over the year!

Contact us for our FREE whitepaper and program details


Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished Lead Coach, Trainer and Keynote Speaker who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations. 

She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation and performance. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.

Contact us for a chat and see how we can collaborate with you for even more success!