Inspire Hard Work

How can I inspire my team to work hard?

As a new manager, I am frustrated by the apathy, disorganization and other poor work traits of my team. I never acted like that when I was at their level. How can I make them work hard like I did?

The answer to your question is simple: You can’t make them work hard like you did. Leadership is not about making people do things; it’s about creating a culture that inspires people to want to work hard. The struggle that most high achievers like you face when taking on a leadership role is relating to people who are not like themselves. 

Leadership wouldn’t be all that necessary if everyone was committed, hardworking and team-oriented. It’s the diversity, attitudes, vice and virtue of the people on your team and every team that create results or destruction. Your job as a leader is to build a culture where people, like you, are attracted to their work and where they want to prosper. It is quite common for new leaders to immediately turn their attention to productivity and strategy instead of building trust and culture, which is the essential first step. 

I remember a story about a Dr. Thomas who asked a colleague to take his patients for the day while he attended a seminar. The substitute physician, Dr. Reagan, was overwhelmed by the number of patients he saw. It exceeded his daily number by nearly double. To elevate his frustration, many of the patients expressed their dissatisfaction with his approach, saying that they felt rushed and that they liked Dr. Thomas much more.

When Dr. Thomas returned, they discussed the day. Dr. Reagan told his friend that he was exhausted from seeing more patients than he had ever seen and noted that they all seemed to dislike him. He asked Dr. Thomas why the day was so overscheduled. Dr. Thomas said that the number of patients on the schedule that day was half his normal workload. In disbelief, Dr. Reagan asked him how he could spend half the time with twice as many patients and yet have them not feel rushed. He answered simply, "I sit during the consultation, but you stand."

The simple act of sitting expressed to Dr. Thomas’ patients that they were more than a number to get through; they were people with whom he was happy to sit and listen. 

Although your leadership situation is not exactly the same, it does require a similar approach. Get to know the people you lead. Inspire them to reach their own goals and personal objectives within their roles. Great leaders are tough — but not because they make people do things. They are tough because they learn to meet both the emotional and intellectual needs of their team members, which is challenging because it requires virtue. 

Recognize good behaviors in public, discipline poor behaviors in private, and reward people for their accomplishments. Those practices will accelerate trust and create an environment for excellence.

Remember, in the workplace, nothing is as powerful as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are a leader’s most powerful asset and the necessary tools for sainthood. Live in the state of grace, and this situation will become very clear. 

Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at