Inspirational leadership – motivation vs. control

The end of the year is usually in the spirit of goal setting. Setting goals alone does not mean so much. To achieve those goals, action is required. And action requires motivation. How to motivate, and is it even possible…

Ida Protuger



Happiness at work

Violence in the workplace can have different forms, including disrespectful communication and belittling behaviors. It remains a significant source of stress at work.

The power of collective thinking

Leaders hold a crucial role in nurturing collective thinking as a resource. Those appreciating the value of experience and knowledge in each team member foster a safe space for exchanging ideas. They see the synergy from combined resources as valuable input toward better, well-informed, and inclusive decisions.

The end of the year is usually in the spirit of goal setting.

Setting goals alone does not mean so much. To achieve those goals, action is required. And action requires motivation.

How to motivate, and is it even possible to encourage employees to achieve organizational/company goals?

On an individual level, many people have achieved incredible things.

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it” these are the words of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.


“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things — to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals,” – said Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mount Everest.

The reason why these feats are achieved is due to what we call intrinsic motivation, which comes from within. Intrinsic motivation is called inspiration.

The best description of inspiration is Nietzsche’s thought:

“He, who has a why to live for, can bear with almost any how”.

Emotions, needs, and achievements

Inspiring and encouraging intrinsic motivation in the workplace and among many people is challenging. But it is not impossible. There are unexpectedly many inspiring leaders.


At a leadership training I held last year, one of the participants told me she would like to be a manager like her husband. He doesn’t do anything special. Still, he never had a problem motivating employees and encouraging them to be creative and productive. “He knows how to deal with people, she said, and in effect, said the “secret” formula for inspirational leadership.

How is “to deal with people”?

We are born as individuals, but we are designed to survive only by building relationships with others. So being good with people is a crucial skill that leads us closer to the quality of life we call well-being.

Emotional intelligence and effective communication are the primary human skills to achieve those people skills.

To deal with people, exclude controlling people. It is essential to create an environment where they feel free and respected, releasing their creative energy and productivity. Control and insistence on discipline cause feelings of fear and subordination, while freedom means autonomy in action.

Instead of external control, inspirational leadership will encourage self-control and self-discipline among team members. What is also essential in that regard is that team members favor freedom over control. Freedom does not imply chaos but responsibility for one’s own decisions and accountable behavior.

The ability to build valuable relationships offers much more power to trigger growth than the managerial title. And luckily, it can be learned.

The professional title could trigger extrinsic motivation (reward in terms of salary, action to avoid punishment). Still, only the person themself could trigger intrinsic motivation when the team members see purpose in their activities.

That’s why the most important thing is to set goals, incorporate team members’ interests into organizational goals, and give them the freedom to manage their resources.

Managers who cannot inspire people or are not good at setting measurable goals, and structure, go into micromanagement and control assertion. Control is connected to feelings like fear or oppression, and freedom means autonomy. Freedom and autonomy are the best allies of creativity and productivity.