How These Colorado Leaders Build Resilient and Inspired Teams

When people take pride and ownership in their work, it comes through in their performance.

Published on May. 23, 2023
How These Colorado Leaders Build Resilient and Inspired Teams
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Motivation — it’s the fire that drives teams to overcome challenges, accomplish ambitious goals and treat problems as temporary setbacks. It’s the inner push to tough it out, try one more approach and aim just a little higher.

It’s an invaluable quality — and one that successful leaders can make a point of cultivating and continually nurturing in those around them. But how? Dangle the promise of big bonuses if a project succeeds? Call out top performers in weekly meetings? These tactics may get results, but they’re external rewards; they don’t necessarily address intrinsic motivation — that is, the kind that comes from personal satisfaction or fulfillment — which research has shown to have a powerful influence on work performance.

Jeremy Goldsmith, vice president of engineering at Contentful, takes the matter of motivation seriously. In his experience, the most effective way to spur someone’s motivation is by helping them find meaning in their work. By identifying what makes the job click for each employee, he can keep them energized and on track toward this vision. 

“If I can help someone find a meaningful sense of purpose, it’s valuable for them and me,” he told Built In Colorado. “I help them unlock a new level of individual motivation and performance and help myself and my organization accomplish our essential goals.”

Helping employees shift their mindsets and take ownership of their work is also a key part of Peter Maher’s approach as head of sales at Frontsteps. To encourage team-wide buy-in on new goals and ideas, he recommends opening them up to feedback and discussion. With more control and autonomy, he’s found, people are more proactive in holding themselves and each other accountable for the overall success of the team. 

Read on for Maher’s and Goldsmith’s tips for inspiring individuals and transforming teams.

 

Jeremy Goldsmith
VP, Engineering • Contentful

Contentful empowers businesses to streamline their content management processes and deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences to their audiences. 

 

Describe one of the principles, habits or rituals that differentiates your unique approach to leadership. 

Life is too short to do meaningless work. Reflecting on my career, I’ve been the most engaged, creative, productive and fulfilled when supporting an ambitious, meaningful and worthwhile goal. I’m excited to come to work and feel I’m contributing to something more significant and more critical than merely pursuing a paycheck. I don’t get easily discouraged by mundane tasks or roadblocks. Instead, I’m inspired and motivated.

As a leader, one of the most valuable ways I spend my time is by helping others find a sense of purpose. Research on motivation says people perform at their best when they have purpose, autonomy and mastery. I’ve found that motivated people are more productive, creative and collaborative and can be incredibly loyal, staying with you for a long time.

 

What differences did you notice after you adopted this new principle, habit or ritual in your leadership? 

Over the years leading software engineering teams, I’ve found that people with a clear sense of purpose are less willing to “sweat the small stuff.” Challenging situations will invariably arise, and people will make mistakes, or their work will somehow miss the mark. Sometimes whole projects get derailed, or teams get reorganized. But when people have a bigger goal in mind, they’re more resilient to these challenges.

I’ve also learned that not everyone is motivated by the same thing. It pays to understand the people you’re leading. Learn what they find exciting and inspiring. Craft your goals and message to apply to the most people possible. Help them understand why their work matters and translate it into something they find personally compelling.

Finally, be honest. Following an inspiring vision requires significant trust in your leaders. Make sure you deserve that trust and that the inspiring vision or goal is meaningful, not just a way to get people to work harder. People are pretty good at spotting inauthentic leaders and phony visions. The only thing worse than having unmotivated people is losing the trust of the people you’re leading.

 

The only thing worse than having unmotivated people is losing the trust of the people you’re leading.”

 

What does this approach to leadership help you and your teams accomplish?

Motivated, inspired people accomplish big things. They stay the course and they innovate. If you want to transform your team into one that performs, ensure each person has a clear sense of purpose. 

Here are a few things you can do as a leader to help people have a clear sense of purpose:

  1. Make sure the work you’re doing is actually meaningful. You can’t fake it.
  2. Find what’s meaningful to you first. If you’re genuinely excited and frequently talk about a vision or goal that inspires you, your enthusiasm will be contagious and inspire others.
  3. Articulate a long-term, ambitious organizational goal that your team contributes to. Make it bigger than the individual or your team, and ideally, serving a greater good. 
  4. Help people also find personal purpose. Help them develop a career path, clarify professional goals and build a plan to progress. 
  5. Remind folks about the big picture. It’s easy to lose sight of the long-term goal while working in the trenches. Be the person that helps connect the dots.
  6. Celebrate accomplishments. When you’re on a long journey, it’s important to have perspective, take breaks along the way and celebrate how far you’ve come.

 

 

Peter Maher
Head of Sales • FRONTSTEPS

Frontsteps builds software to help streamline operations, improve communication, enhance security, and foster resident engagement in residential communities.

 

Describe one of the principles, habits or rituals that differentiates your unique approach to leadership. 

Culture first. To create a sales culture that inspires accountability beyond just meeting individual quotas, it is crucial to:

 

  1. Implement strategies that foster two-way feedback.
  2. Encourage team members to participate in setting collective objectives.
  3. Provide personalized coaching to each individual based on their unique strengths.
  4. Refrain from assigning tasks that exceed what you yourself can accomplish. 

To earn the trust and respect of your team, you must consistently demonstrate your commitment to empowering them for success. Only then can you justify expecting a high level of performance from your team members.

 

What differences did you notice after you adopted this new principle, habit or ritual in your leadership? 

When your team is fully invested in a common objective, they are more likely to hold each other accounable for the team’s overall success. 

To achieve this level of investment, consider presenting your team with a potential goal or idea during a team meeting and soliciting their feedback. Encourage them to scrutinize your proposal and offer alternative perspectives. You may be pleasantly surprised: The outcome could be a goal or idea that the entire team is fully committed to. When a team is involved in shaping its destination, it becomes much easier to steer them toward success.
 

When a team is involved in shaping its destination, it becomes much easier to steer them toward success.

 

What does this approach to leadership help you and your teams accomplish?

I have heard it said that the distinction between a manager and a leader is determined solely by the perceptions of one's team members. By fostering a team culture built on trust, transparency, accountability and constructive two-way feedback, and by achieving a high level of investment from your team in a particular objective, you will be amazed at how smoothly and effectively the outcomes will unfold on their own.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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