How local leaders motivate, inspire staff and followers

January 2013


Experts on leadership have said that one of the characteristics that sets authentic leaders apart is having authentic followers, people who follow them not because of the job title but because these leaders inspire and motivate them. For an organization, whether it’s for-profit, nonprofit or in the public sector, having motivated staff, both paid and volunteer, is key to success.


Local leaders motivate their staff in different ways, but some things many have in common include using open communication, building a strong culture and rolling up their sleeves to be part of the team.


Sunshine Nance of Boxlight says while motivating and inspiring are often used interchangeably, there’s a difference between the two.


“Motivating is getting everybody focused on a task, outlining goals and giving them the power and autonomy to succeed in their jobs. Inspiring is giving them the passion to want to succeed in their job. It seems more personal, something that comes from the heart,” said Nance, marketing and communications director and owner/manager with her husband, Hank.


The company, headquartered in Belfair, has 135 local employees and 17 in Mexico.

“Showing people that you care is really important,” Nance said. “To motivate, the biggest thing is to treat people with respect and give them the power to make decisions related to their jobs, showing interest in them as people and doing extra things.”


She said employees at Boxlight are motivated to begin with because of a culture of accountability. “It’s about taking care of the people who work for you, keeping them happy and giving them accountability,” she said.


Organizational culture is also a strong belief for Scott McFarlane, founder and CEO of Avalara. The company, which designs sales-tax automation software, has 330 employees worldwide, including 200 at its Bainbridge Island headquarters.


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