When it comes to motivating others, it’s all in your approach and in being true to yourself…


When it comes to motivating others, it’s all in your approach and in being true to yourself…

Last week when I shared The Introvert’s Guide to Leadership I mentioned that I would be going more in-depth on each important point because there just wasn’t enough room in one blog post to do each topic justice. So, today we’ll take a closer look at how introverts can motivate and move others to action.

As I stated in my original post:

“Introverts must be willing to tap into their extraversion when it’s time to “rally the troops” and inspire their teams. They must recognize that they may be more reluctant to “move into action” than their extraverted counterparts, and be honest with themselves about this. Because “moving into action” is critical to a leader’s success, they must become adept at getting outside their comfort zone to make this happen.”

I really can’t stress this point enough: leaders, regardless of their preference for introversion or extraversion, must be able to motivate and move others to action, even if that action is as simple as “thinking differently” about something or as imperceptible as inspiring someone.

Three Key Steps

I believe there are three key steps that have enabled me – as an introvert – to successfully motivate and move others to action at critical times when my visibility, presence and message were vitally important:

1. The ability to be comfortable in front of others and then lead by example

2. My ability to connect with a team or an audience – whatever its size

3. Being true to myself

Let’s look at each of these from the perspective of the introvert:

1. The importance of being comfortable in front of others and then leading by example

Even though I am an introvert I may have an advantage here in that I never met a microphone, stage or impromptu speaking opportunity I didn’t like. I believe it’s because I got up on stage in front of others at a very early age thanks to ballet recitals. And because, even at the age of three, I understood the importance of knowing my dance routines, being prepared, and of smiling.

How did I learn this? I vividly remember my dance teachers placing me front and center on stage at dance recitals and telling all the other girls to “follow Lisa” because I was the only one who knew the dance inside and out. And because I beamed for the audience – setting the tone for them to enjoy it no matter what.

These were my first experiences being the leader and being up in front of others (the audience, and more importantly, my fellow dancers). I loved everything about it.

What I took away from those experiences was that I could help others be better by showing them the way; by being thoroughly prepared, by understanding expectations, and by loving what I was doing – and then letting my passion for what I was doing show outwardly for all to see and experience.

Let’s be honest, introverts get our energy when we’re alone or in intimate groups. Getting up in front of more than a few people can be excessively draining for introverts. But, it’s necessary as a leader who must motivate others to certain action, and critical for those in C-suite roles in major companies.

Can you motivate others and move them to action without getting visibly in front of them? Can you lead by example without being visibly present?

Sure. We can do it with the written word or video or by sending others to rally the troops on our behalf, as some conquerors did for hundreds of years. Or we can be more like Joan of Arc and be visibly present to motivate others to action, and to inspire them to be better.

I advise and implore all introverts to find ways – even small ways in your community or neighborhoods – to get comfortable getting in front of others and leading the way.

Practice doesn’t necessarily make you perfect, but it absolutely makes you prepared, much more comfortable, and significantly more confident for the next step:

2. The ability to really connect with others, with your teams, and with an audience

Sometimes as a leader you motivate individuals one-on-one and sometimes you’re in a position of “rallying the troops.” Regardless of the size of the group you are communicating with, motivation only comes when you genuinely connect with people as individuals.

This is why I have never supported advice that some people give speakers to “look just above the audience” when speaking or worse, “look at people and imagine them in their underwear.”


If I’m not looking at you then why should you bother listening? And if I’m imagining the group in their underwear while trying to motivate them I’m destined to get distracted and off topic, right? I certainly won’t be connected to my own sense of enthusiasm and commitment that I’m trying to convey.

The only way to connect – and ultimately motivate others – is to look them directly in the eyes. They need to see that you believe in what you’re saying and that you care that they understand and are receiving your message. And looking directly at your team members is the only way to fully understand if your message is being truly heard.

This again, can be difficult for introverts because it really requires that we push ourselves outside that inner world we love so much and connect – completely – with the world of our teams and audience.

So what’s an introvert to do when trying to genuinely connect with others?

  • Know the message you want to convey – know it in your bones – before you get in front of your team
  • Understand what’s in it for your team (the WIIFM) – why they should want to be motivated to action in the way you want them to be
  • Understand the tone you need to set in order for those you are motivating to follow you on the journey
  • Practice conveying your message – and understand the importance of your body language as well as your spoken words
  • Over time, practice looking directly at individuals when you talk, holding their attention, and reading their reaction before your eyes move to another team member – you will really be connecting when you can do this well
  • You’ll learn over time that you don’t need to be loud or ebullient to motivate. Rather, when you really connect you can be the quietest person in the room – and others will strain to ensure they hear what you are saying.
  • You’ll discover that when you speak, people will listen – and then they’ll be moved to action.
  • Celebrate your progress – even small successes. (And never underestimate the power of doing this!)

3. Be True to Yourself

I’m not particularly a fan of the sentiment, “fake it till you make it.” I am sure it works for certain situations but, in this case, you absolutely have to bring yourself into your role of motivator and change-maker because you are asking people to follow you and to be motivated to action by your words and deeds.

If you are not truly present in that moment your team will know it.

Let your words, your tone and your body language convey what you are feeling. Let your team feel the passion and conviction you have for the journey you are asking them to make. If you don’t feel passionate and convicted but still need to motivate others, then you had better make the “What’s In It For Me” crystal clear to them or you’ll be on the journey alone.

Remember, we introverts have brilliant inner lights. Embrace yours, let it shine, and bring it wholeheartedly to your leadership role!


You can see the entire Introvert’s Guide Series here! I hope introverts and extraverts alike will find these posts invaluable. This series was inspired by this post by my friend Mack Collier.

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You can find me on Twitter at @LisaPetrilli and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisapetrilli. I look forward to seeing you there!

To hire me, email me at Lisa@CLevelStrategies.com.

Photo is Joan of Arc Statue, Portland OR by brxO.



This article originally appeared on C-Level Strategies and has been republished with permission.

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