Workplace motivation quotes

9 Workplace Motivation Quotes By Leaders

Leader motivating employees

It isn’t easy being a leader. You’re expected to be courageous, a calculated risk-taker, a smart decision-maker, and a good communicator.

Not only do you need to drive business results, but you’re also responsible for ensuring that your employees are engaged and putting in their best work.

In short, you’re a role model for your employees so that they can follow in your footsteps.

The current crisis makes it all the more difficult for leaders now. They need all their skills to guide their tribe through the uncertainty and fear. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to change the way they work, think, and engage with their people. With no prior preparation, everything has happened on the fly. 

Strategies and policies are being swiftly altered to include the possibility of long-term or even permanent remote working conditions.

In these troubled times, we share 9 workplace motivation quotes from the finest minds in the world to keep your spirits up and your resolve firm.

1Andy Grove, ex-CEO, Intel Corp.

Andy Grove

“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.”

The COVID-19 pandemic could easily qualify as the mother of all crises because it has been global in its reach and effect. Companies are scrambling to adapt to the new remote working situation. 

Leaders are drawing on everything they possess to manage the crisis as best as they can. 

Good leaders maintain calm and deliberate optimism to motivate their direct reports to follow suit. 

They show empathy and demonstrate that they are human first.

They understand the challenges faced by team members in these difficult times and support them through it.

On the other hand, leaders who fail to improvise amid the uncertainty will find it difficult to survive.

Organizations unwilling to shift their mindset or unable to revise their plans will flounder.

Instead of overreacting to the situation, you need a balanced approach that considers both employee welfare and business continuity.


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2Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor & CEO, Candor Inc.

Workplace motivation quote by Kim Scott
Source: Business Insider
“Hard times are made much harder when you’re not at your best. And they can make it particularly hard to “care personally” about the people you work with, not to mention those you live with. You’re too busy dealing with your own suffering. But “caring personally” is integral to building the relationships that drive everything else. The essence of leadership is not getting overwhelmed by circumstances.”

Nothing can be more applicable to this time of uncertainty than Scott’s workplace motivation quote about ‘caring personally.’ 

 It is vital for you to be transparent and truthful with your direct reports.

This will reduce the emotional distress of your direct reports caused by the fear of the unknown.

The strength of the relationships that you have built with your team members is what will see you through tough times when you’re forced to trust each other in the absence of direct contact. 

This is the time for leaders to stay calm, manage their own fears, and project a confident exterior. 

3Bill Campbell, CEO Coach

Bill Campbell
Source: Columbia Magazine
“Think that everyone who works for you is like your kids. Help them course correct, make them better.”

Although spoken in a different context, Campbell’s words ring very true for the current crisis.

People panic at such times and look at their leaders for guidance. 

You must act quickly and communicate clearly and with empathy. With the breakdown of the usual channels of communication, rumors are likely to arise. 

You’ll want to reach out to your direct reports to cut through the noise and arm them with essential, credible information.

Your employees are more than just workers, they are a reflection of your people management abilities. 

A human-first approach, greater tolerance for errors, and a solution-focused mindset will hold you in good stead at this time.

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4Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO, Google

Workplace motivation quote by Eric Schmidt
Source: The Verge
“How do you bring people around and help them flourish in your environment? It’s not by being a dictator. It’s not by telling them what the hell to do. It’s making sure that they feel valued by being in the room with you. Listen. Pay attention. This is what great managers do.”

There are no set strategies for managers to follow when things fall apart suddenly as they have in the COVID-19 crisis. 

To manage the storm, the traditional leadership qualities of decisiveness and communication are important.

What is equally important is the ability to listen and empathize with your people.

With old ways of working being chucked out the window, your direct reports may want to explore fresh approaches. 

You’ll want to actively listen to their ideas, discuss the pros and cons, and offer support and guidance.

Don’t turn into a tyrant!  Instead, show them you care and back them up.

5Adam Grant, Professor, the Wharton School

Adam Grant
Source: CNBC
“When our commitment is wavering, the best way to stay on track is to consider the progress we’ve already made. As we recognize what we’ve invested and attained, it seems like a waste to give up, and our confidence and commitment surge.”

It is natural for your direct reports to feel disengaged and demotivated in tough times. 

Grant’s workplace motivation quote reminds you that your job to seek new ways to encourage and reassure them of their worth.

You’ll do well to remember that your direct reports are a reflection of your leadership. They look up to you and follow YOU.

Your most important job in the current crisis is to keep the morale of your direct reports high and remind them that they have the strength to get through it. 

You can also help them see that this is the time to be proactive, to showcase talent, and learn new ways of doing things. 

6Ben Horowitz, co-founder, VC firm Andreessen Horowitz

Workplace motivation quote by Ben Horowitz
Source: Tech Crunch
“Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.”

As organizations adjust into new patterns of work, you and your direct reports may be exploring novel approaches to getting things done. 

We’ve been launched into remote work without proper infrastructure or adequate training, so making a few mistakes is natural.

However, if you have a good rapport with your employees, you will be able to trust them to deliver per expectations.

You will not feel the urge to micromanage; you’ll want to give them enough autonomy to manage their work as they see fit.

In turn, your direct reports will feel comfortable enough to ask for help when they make a mistake instead of brushing things under the carpet.

This will save you and the organization a lot of trouble in the future. 

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7John Eades, CEO, LearnLoft

Workplace motivation quote by John Eades

“Successful communication is about three C’s. Can your communication be Clear, Concise and most importantly Conclusive.”

Just like John Eades does in this workplace motivation quote, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication, especially during a crisis. 

Your team members are scared about falling sick, uncertain about their jobs, and struggling to retain some semblance of work-life balance. 

You’ll want to communicate clearly and frequently to reassure your direct reports, ease their worries, and help them focus on their work.

How do you communicate with your direct reports?

The pandemic has made physical, face-to-face contact out of bounds for now.

But there’s no reason why you cannot have one on one meetings with the video turned on. 

In fact, you can use a one on one meeting software to help you have more effective meetings. 

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8Steve Jobs, co-founder, Apple Inc.

Workplace motivation quote by Steve Jobs
Source: The Balance Small Business
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

It’s ironic that such a workplace motivation quote has come from an out-and-out technology guy.

But Jobs has understood the essence of leadership–you are only as good as your people.

Although organizations have to lean heavily on technological solutions to maintain business continuity in the COVID-19 crisis, the success of these approaches boils down to the people and their willingness to adopt it. 

Your strong working relationship and excellent rapport with your direct reports will help you make the most of a tough situation.

Remind yourself and them of their inherent value. Involve them as far as possible in important decisions. 

Then watch them rise and take accountability of their tasks and put in the best work of their lives.

9Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Workplace motivation quote by Jeff Bezos
Source: The Times
“The common question that gets asked in business is, why? That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is why not?”

Managers have to deal with ambiguity as part of their daily life. It’s practically built into their job profile. 

However, a crisis that suddenly creeps up on you and refuses to go can be unnerving. 

It can also be the opportunity you have always been seeking – to do something different, something new.

There are many downsides to the tough times that we’re facing now, but if you’re enterprising enough, there are also many doors opening.

In keeping with this workplace motivation quote by Jeff Bezos, encourage your direct reports to think “Why not?” and delve into new solutions and methods of work. 

In Conclusion

Be genuinely compassionate, conquer your own fears, connect and inspire–these will be the hallmarks of a true leader in this crisis.

We’ll leave you with something Albert Einstein said that should provide inspiration in these dynamic and uncertain times:

“The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity…out of discord, harmony…and out of difficulty, opportunity.”

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9 Workplace Motivation Quotes By Leaders