#244: Motivate Your Team in English — Essential Strategies & Phrases for Leaders

Jun 22, 2022 | Business Professional English, Leadership Communication

How can you speak like a leader and motivate your team in English? 

That is the question I will answer today in response to a request I received from one of my subscribers here on YouTube: “Annemarie, could you please have more videos about teamwork and phrases about your employees working under you when you are their supervisor?”

This question was posted as a comment on my lesson titled Positive Communication at Work and on Teams.

Today’s Confident English lesson will help you to successfully motivate your team in English and develop a genuine leadership communication style.

As you watch this lesson from start to finish, you’ll learn four strategies and fourteen must-have phrases to motivate your team in English.

Moreover, you’ll have clear examples that you can confidently adapt to your needs as a team leader in an English-speaking environment.

14 Must-Have Phrases & 4 Strategies to Motivate Your Team in English | Leadership Communication Skills

Strategy #1: Make Your Team Members Part of The Mission

When you know that YOUR work contributes to something bigger than yourself and when you know that your work has IMPACT, how does that feel? It’s powerful, right?

Understanding how your work contributes to the vision or mission of your company not only motivates but also leads to a sense of fulfillment.

This is true for your team members as well. 

As a team leader, you can motivate your team members by helping them see how their work contributes and has an impact. 

You can help connect the dots between your team members’ work and how it enables the team, or the company, to fulfill its mission.

To connect the dots means to piece together and reveal information that was previously unknown.

And there are 2 ways to do that:

First, you can tell your team members how their work contributes by using encouraging sentences starters such as:

  • Your work is instrumental in….
  • Your role and your work are crucial to… 
  • Your growth in X has contributed considerably to the continued success of the team and company.

Here’s an example of how you might complete one of those must-have phrases for team motivation:

  • Your work was instrumental in helping us to expand our program and meet the needs of hard-to-serve clients in rural areas.
  • Your role and your work were crucial to the success of helping our biggest client navigate a complicated rebranding strategy.  

The second way to encourage your team members and demonstrate your leadership communication skills is through effective questions that help your team members connect the dots for themselves. For example: 

  • How would you describe the company’s mission and what excites you about it?
  • Why do you think your work here is important? How do you see your role/your work contributing to our mission?


Strategy #2: Focus On Quality of Work to Motivate Your Team

Every team experiences challenges such as setbacks, mistakes, and difficult deadlines. 

Acknowledging the difficulties and struggles that were overcome to attain goals can:

  • Motivate team members to continue growing in the right direction
  • Encourage learning from the experience of the team member
  • Make a team member feel truly seen  

When using this strategy, contrast the difficulties with the exemplary performance of your team or a specific team member.

To do this, you may find the following sentences starters useful:

  • I know that…You did a great job of….
  • Your efforts in X helped us to….
  • I can’t tell you how much X improved Y.

Here is how you could use one of those must-have phrases for motivation.

If someone’s investment of personal time and energy helped the team meet a deadline, you could say,

I know that you invested a lot of time outside of working hours to help meet the deadline. You did a great job of not only supporting but motivating our team.”


Alternatively, if a team member’s specific action directly caused an improvement, you might say, “I can’t tell you how much your innovative strategies helped to improve the overall performance of our team. Well done!

Strategy #3: Encourage Displays of Leadership within Your Team

Extraordinary communication skills are essential for the success of a team.

Team members feel motivated to strengthen and maintain these skills when their efforts and any initiatives they’ve taken are encouraged.

To effectively implement this strategy, consider highlighting a specific example of their leadership and sharing how it helped the team or progress the work.

The following phrases may help:

  • The way you handled X, helped the team to…
  • I appreciate that you took the initiative to…
  • Your guidance in X, motivated the team to…
  • Your innovative approach to X allowed the team to…

For example, imagine a team member was successful in calming an irate client. You might say,

The way you handled the client’s complaint helped the team to learn the best way to respond to negative feedback and problem solve.

Here’s another example:

If a team member’s extensive experience helped the team to elevate their performance, you could say,

Your experience and guidance in strategic rebranding, motivated the team to think outside the box and refocus.

Strategy #4: Foster Growth to Motivate Your Team Members

Nothing is more mutually rewarding and beneficial than motivating your team member to grow a skillset in which they exhibit signs of strengths. 

Recognizing their skills and the team member’s specific uses of those skills helps them to gain clarity, feel seen, and feel supported. 

When encouraging your team member in this way, highlight their valuable skills and give them an opportunity to truly shine. 

Here are some must-have phrases that would be useful in this context: 

  • I value your ability to X. I’d love for you to spearhead…
  • Your knowledge and experience of X are valuable. Would you mind sharing your thoughts on Y? 
  • The improvements to X were fantastic. Could you share your process with the team in our next meeting? 
  • Your X is promising and exciting. Please let me know the best way to support your continued growth in this area.

For example, if a team member shows promise in a particular task, you might even want to encourage them to focus and expand on these skills. In such an instance, you could say,

I value your ability to spot trends. I’d love for you to spearhead the new ad campaign.

In addition, if this team member continues to blow you away and their improvements to an existing project would be a teachable moment for the entire team, you could certainly encourage them by giving them an opportunity to shine. 

You might say,

Your improvements to the ad campaign were fantastic! Could you share the process with our team in the next meeting?


In addition to these 4 key strategies for motivating your team, here are 3 quick tips to further demonstrate leadership communication skills in English:

Tip #1: Encourage Team Shoutouts

    • The best way to motivate a team member, as well as the entire team, is to foster a work culture of appreciation and recognition. 
    • During monthly/weekly meetings, encourage team members to give a shoutout to another member to highlight something outstanding about their performance or support.

Tip #2: Introduce Awards/Rewards

    • A great way to motivate and encourage team members is by nominating them for an award or reward. 
    • Whether it’s a day off, a gift card, or even a thank you card signed by the entire team, recognition goes a long way.
    • Every month, encourage your team to nominate an MVP. When it’s done together, it fosters a sense of unity and celebration.

Tip #3: Say Thank You

    • More than anything, sincerely thanking your team for their hard work can be a strong source of encouragement and motivation. There’s no limit to saying thank you as long as you’re genuine.

What are your thoughts on motivating your team in English?

Whether you’re a fellow team member or a team lead:

  1. Which of the strategies from today’s lesson was an ‘aha’ moment? Why? 
  2. In what way will you be using the strategies from today’s lesson to motivate and encourage your coworkers or team members? How will this help you grow stronger as a team?

The best place for you to share (and learn from others in the SCE Community), is in the comment section below.

~ Annemarie


P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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