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Listening

The receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
This skill is all about being able to effectively receive information - whether it comes from customers, colleagues or stakeholders.

Initially, the skill steps concentrate on being able to listen effectively to others - including remembering short instructions, understanding why others are communication and recording important information.

Individuals then focus on how they demonstrate that they are listening effectively, thinking about body language, open questioning and summarising and rephrasing.

Beyond that, the focus is on being aware of how they might be being influenced by a speaker, through tone and language.

The final steps are about critical listening - comparing perspectives, identifying biases, evaluating ideas and being objective.

Speaking

The oral transmission of information or ideas
This skill is all about how to communicate effectively with others, being mindful of whether they are talking to customers, colleagues or other stakeholders and in different settings.

Initially, this skill focuses on being able to speak clearly - first with well known individuals and small groups and then with those who are not known.

The next stage is about being an effective speaker by making points logically, by thinking about what listeners already know and using appropriate language, tone and gesture.

Beyond that, individuals focus on speaking engagingly through use of facts and examples, visual aids, and their expression and gesture.

Beyond that stage, speakers will be adaptive to the response of their listeners and ready for different scenarios. The final steps focus on speaking influentially - using structure, examples, facts and vision to persuade listeners.

Problem Solving

The ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge
This skill focuses on how to solve problems, recognising that while part of Problem Solving is technical know-how and experience, there are also transferable tools that individuals can develop and use.

The first steps focus on being able to follow instructions to complete tasks, seeking help and extra information if needed. The next stage focuses on being able to explore problems by creating and assessing different potential solutions. This includes more complex problems, without a simple technical solution.

Beyond this, the focus is on exploring complex solutions - thinking about causes and effects, generating options, and evaluating those options. This extends into analysis using logical reasoning and hypotheses.

Finally, individuals implement strategic plans to solve complex problems, assess their success, and draw out learning for the future.

Creativity

The use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
Creativity is the complement to Problem Solving, and is about generating innovations or ideas which can then be honed through the problem-solving process.

The first few steps focus on the individual's confidence in imagining different situations and sharing their ideas.

The focus is then on generating ideas - using a clear brief, making improvements to something that already exists and combining concepts.

Individuals then apply creativity in the context of their work and their wider life. They can build off this to develop ideas using tools like mind mapping, questioning, and considering different perspectives.

The most advanced steps focus on building effective innovation in group settings and by seeking out varied experiences and stimuli. Finally, individuals support others to innovate, by sharing tools, identifying the right tools for the situation and through coaching.

Staying Positive

The ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
This skill is all about individuals being equipped to manage their emotions effectively and being able to remain motivated, and ultimately to motivate others, even when facing setbacks.

The early steps focus on identifying emotions - particularly feeling positive or negative. Building off that is the ability to keep trying - and then staying calm, thinking about what went wrong, and trying to cheer up and encourage others.

The focus then turns to identifying new opportunities in difficult situations, sharing those, and adapting or creating plans accordingly. At more advanced steps, individuals identify and manage risks and gains in opportunities.

Finally, individuals support others to stay positive by managing their own response, helping others to see opportunities and creating plans to achieve them.

Aiming High

The ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them
This skill is about being able to plan effectively - both to achieve organisational goals, and also to set their own personal development targets. Initially, this is about knowing when something is too difficult, and having a sense of what doing well looks like for an individual.

The focus is then about working with care and attention, taking pride in success and having a positive approach to new challenges. Building on this, individuals set goals for themselves, informed by an understanding of what is needed, and then be able to order and prioritise tasks, secure resources and involve others effectively.

At the higher steps, the focus is creating plans informed by an individual's skill set, with clear targets, and building on external views. At the most advanced level, individuals develop long-term strategies. These are informed by an assessment of internal and external factors, structured through regular milestones and feedback loops.

Leadership

Supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
This skill is relevant not only for individuals in positions of management with formal power, but also for individuals working with peers in teams.

At the earliest stages, the focus is on basic empathy - understanding their own feelings, being able to share them, and recognising the feelings of others. The focus is on managing - dividing up tasks, managing time and sharing resources, managing group discussions and dealing with disagreements.

Beyond that, individuals build their awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their teams. This allows them to allocate tasks effectively. They then build techniques to mentor, coach and motivate others. At the highest steps, individuals will be able to reflect on their own leadership style and understand its effect on others.

Ultimately, they should be able to build on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses, and adapt their leadership style to the situation.

Teamwork

Working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal
This skill applies to working within both formal and informal teams, and also with customers, clients or other stakeholders. Initially, this is about individuals fulfilling expectations around being positive, behaving appropriately, being timely and reliable and taking responsibility. This extends to understanding and respecting diversity of others' cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.

The next steps focus on making a contribution to a team through group decision making recognising the value of others' ideas and encourage others to contribute too.Beyond that, individuals improve their teams through managing conflict and building relationships beyond the immediate team. At the top steps, individuals focus on how they influence their team through suggesting improvements and learning lessons from setbacks.

Ultimately, individuals support the team by evaluating others strengths and weaknesses and bringing in external expertise and relationships.

To achieve Step 12, individuals will show that can motivate others in different situations.  

In the two previous steps, the focus was on support others through mentoring and coaching, respectively. This step builds on this by looking at how to boost motivation in a range of settings, which is a vital part of leadership.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What motivation is
  • How understanding your team can boost motivation
  • How motivation is linked to having the right training and resources
  • How recognising success and supporting through challenges maintains motivation
  • How motivation is supported by a sense of shared endeavour

Reflection questions

  • What is motivation?
  • When do you feel more or less motivated? 
  • What are the critical things that a leader can do to maintain motivation in their teams?
  • What do you think are the most important things to prioritise?
  • Have you had any experience of motivating others as a leader?

What you need to know

What is motivation?

Motivation is the drive that someone feels to commit energy and effort to completing tasks, in the expectation of some future benefit. 

If humans were rational, then motivation would simply be a function of the reward that would be expected from completing a task, and the probability of being successful based on the level of effort put in.

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What underpins successful motivation?

In reality, though, there is more complex psychology involved in how humans are motivated and how to keep them motivated when going through difficult situations. As a result, an effective leader will think hard about how to keep their team motivated, even through difficult times.

There are four things that underpin being able to motivate your team:

  • Understand your team, know them, and what excites them.
  • Provide the resources, tools and training for success.
  • Recognise success and support through challenges.
  • Ensure a sense of shared endeavour.
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Understanding your team

There are a few basics that a leader can put in place as the foundations of ensuring a motivated and committed team:

  • Getting to know their team: It is powerful to get to know your team as individuals, and to understand their individual strengths as well as their wider interests.
  • Spending time to support them: Making time available to support them is a good sign that you consider them worth your time, and that you value them. 

Finding out what excites them about their role: It may not be obvious what it is that excites people day-to-day, but if you find this out you can help to ensure that they have plenty of opportunities to do what does.

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Provide the resources, tools and training for success

Individuals want to be successful. A large part of the role of the leader is to help to support and facilitate that success. That means:

  • Finding out what team members need from you: Many leaders make the mistake of thinking leadership is about getting people to do whatever you want. In reality, successful leaders think more about how to support and help their teams.
  • Providing the resources they need: It is demoralising and demotivating if individuals don’t have the resources they need to get the job done. As their leader, you are best-placed to help secure these resources. 
  • Seeking the right training and development opportunities: Individuals want to feel that they can do more tomorrow than they can today, so helping them to find the best development opportunities and chances to try something new are vital.
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Recognise success and support through challenges

Individuals not only want to succeed, but want that success to be seen. The leader can boost motivation here by providing this recognition by:

  • Praising individuals for hard work and achievements: Everyone likes to feel that they are recognised for good work and to feel that their efforts are appreciated. The leader has a key role in providing this praise and support.  
  • Recognising individuals in front of their peers: It can also be meaningful and motivating for the work of individuals to be recognised more widely, including in front of their peers. 
  • Providing appropriate rewards: Traditionally, having the right rewards was thought of as being the most important thing to motivate people. Nowadays, rewards as seen as being more of a minimum requirement (or hygiene factor) – so long as the reward is good enough, then it is not that motivating beyond that level.
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Ensure a sense of shared endeavour

Finally, it is vital that there is a sense of shared endeavour. This means:

  • Involving the team in decision making: In other steps, the idea of involving people in decision-making, problem solving, and creative thinking has been highlighted as a route to get people more invested in achieving the solution. If you can involve your team in the decision-making process, they will feel greater ownership of the solution, and so will be more motivated to achieve it. 
  • Working through problems together: Where problems emerge, it is unhelpful for individuals to feel that they cannot talk to a leader about it, but equally unhelpful if they feel they can just hand over the problem for someone else to fix it for them. Working together through problems helps to maintain that motivating sense of ownership and shared endeavour.
  • Demonstrating trust: Finally, demonstrating trust is motivating as it helps people to know that they have real responsibility and that their leader believes that they can complete the tasks well.
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Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher should start by asking learners what they think motivation means, and to reach a shared group definition. The teacher should explain that as humans, we are far from completely rational, and there is a strong element of psychology in how we are motivated and maintain motivation.
  • The teacher can ask learners to generate ideas of what makes them feel motivated in their own lives. The teacher can mind map these ideas.
  • The teacher can then introduce the four main categories above: understanding your team; providing the resources, tools and training for success; recognising success and supporting through challenges; giving a sense of shared endeavour. Learners can reflect on what each of those means and what are some practical things a leader might do in each of those categories. 
  • Learners could consolidate their learning by either putting those principles into practice through a project, or create a presentation or written reflection on those principles. 

Reinforcing it

This skill step can be reinforced whenever there is an opportunity for learners to work in groups and for one of them to take on a leadership role. The teacher can also model how they apply some of these approaches to motivate their class or when leading other activities.

Assessing it 

Ideally, this step would be assessed through observation of an extended project where a learner has a leadership position, to see whether they are able to really apply these motivational principles. If that is not possible, then learners could create a written piece of work or presentation to outline the principles and how they could be applied.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to individuals who want to develop others so that they can make a significant contribution to the team goal. 

To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Discuss with the individual what they think motivation means. Here the manager can explain that as humans, we are far from completely rational, and there is a strong element of psychology in how we are motivated and maintain that motivation.
  • Reflect with the individual about how they have felt their motivation change in the past and what they think affected that. This might lead to a discussion about which factors might also affect other members of their team.
  • Explain some of the techniques to motivate an individual at work. To achieve this a manager can create a diagram of a process to motivate others at work. This diagram could contain four parts, to show four things a manager can do at work to motivate others: Understand your team; provide resources; recognise success; ensure a sense of shared endeavour. A manager could then show this model to an individual and annotate to show how each part of the process can create the effect of motivating an individual. 

Practising it:

There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:

  • Working with colleagues: Whilst working with others to achieve a shared goal, with a focus on boosting motivation to increase the likelihood of success or to overcome particular setbacks.
  • Working with customers or clients: During a difficult moment in a relationship with a customer, when we are trying to bring things back on track, with a focus on using coaching approaching to cultivate their commitment and motivation. 

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through a series of observations and a reflective conversation with an individual. 

  • Here a manager might talk to team members who work with the individual, asking them to provide feedback on whether they feel the individual motivates them.
  • To complement this assessment, a manager might have a reflective conversation with the individual to understand how, if at all, they support individuals on their team. To evidence this skill step, the individual should show an awareness of the four areas which can motivate others.

Spotting it in recruitment: 

During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed for by:

  • Questioning the individual about how they motivate others in a group to perform and giving examples of how they have put those ideas into action.

Build this step

Advice for

Organisations

As an individual, you might be thinking about how best to support your own essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:

  • Looking at the Universal Framework to spot skill steps that you think you need to work on. It is normally best to start from the lowest step that you don’t feel confident on, and go from there.
  • Keeping a record of the skill steps that you want to work on, and writing down when you practice them, and when you feel you are making progress.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what you are trying to do – whether a teacher, family member, manager or a peer. They can help give you feedback on how you are doing, and celebrate your progress with you.

We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help you to build these skills, including:

  • Short activities that you can use to build the essential skills
  • Regular challenges to put those skills into action
  • Ways to record and capture your essential skills, so you can see progress and talk to other people about how you are getting on

More resources

Advice for

Individuals

Why this skill step matters in education

Motivation is important in a place of education if a student is to learn and achieve. A student is likely to work longer, persist with challenges and strive harder if they are motivated to learn. When working with others, everyone can play a role in motivating others in the team.

A long-term group project, a small group task or even partner-work in the classroom, is likely to be completed more effectively if all the contributing students are motivated to complete the task and achieve the learning. It is important to practise how you can motivate others within your group so any learning, tasks and goals can be achieved successfully and enjoyably.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

The key purpose of any business is to achieve the organisation’s goals. When motivation amongst employees is high, the business is more likely to achieve these goals. Motivated employees can lead to greater productivity and so enable the business to achieve higher levels of output. Motivated employees are more efficient in the workplace as they tend to be more committed and have greater job satisfaction. Employee turnover is reduced when employees are motivated, as employees are more likely to stay in their roles when they can see the purpose of their work and their endeavours are recognised and supported.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

A motivated person is increasingly likely to put more effort into a task, take positive action and consequently achieve what they set out to do. The achievement of a goal in the wider world may be something as straightforward as organising a trip to a local cinema with friends or more challenging - for example, completing a marathon with a charity team. In both situations, those involved are more likely to achieve the goal with satisfaction and enjoyment if they are motivated. Success at this step of Leadership will enable you to apply different strategies and approaches to support the individuals within the group to maintain high levels of motivation and, therefore, final success.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Leadership, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!

  • Identify an occasion where you were not motivated to complete a task. Review each element of this step and identify specific reasons why you were not motivated. With reference to the learnings in this step, what actions could you or someone within your team have taken to improve your level of motivation.
  • Identify an occasion when you felt highly motivated to complete a group task and you experienced a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction. With reference to the details in this step, identify a number of reasons for why your motivation was so high. What role had someone else played in ensuring or increasing your motivation?
  • In your next team task or activity, identify one person who in your opinion does not appear to be motivated to complete the exercise. Consider one or two possible reasons for the lack of motivation and take specific action to improve their motivation. Did your intervention have an effect? If not, why not? Try an alternative approach.

Build this step

Advice for

Parents & Carers

As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:

  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own life
  • Trying to show how to use the skill steps, and explaining why you are doing what you are doing
  • Praising your children when they show they are using the skills well, and help them to see that as a worthwhile achievement

We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:

  • Skill stories for the youngest children (aged 3+)
  • Short activities that you can complete together
  • Regular challenges that you can complete at home to build the essential skills
  • Reward systems like printable certificates and badges

There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.

Build this step