Top business motivational speakers for leadership success. Why?


Are your employees lazy, disengaged, disruptive or even disrespectful? Investing in top business motivational speakers might not be the first thing you think of doing for them.

Perfectly understandable. After all, you’re the one waking up at 5 am, arriving at work while it is still dark, long before anyone else gets there, and being the last person to leave the office.  Chances are you have no desire to invest in employees who drain your energy, take no initiative, give you a blank stare when they are given a task to complete or are outright hostile, disrespectful and rude.

Of course, it would be grossly unfair to paint all employees with this same brush.  But the truth is that for some employees, these allegations are certainly true. More on this later. But before you consider taking real action on poor workplace behavior and performance, let us first look at what we have control over and consider this first because it can help you make decisions that are more constructive.

In this article I discuss

  • The role that top business motivational speakers play in great companies’ success.
  • Challenges that leaders face
  • Some practical tips on how to deal with these challenges

There is no question about how diverse people’s opinions are about the value that a business motivational speaker can bring to a company.

Although it is not the purpose of this article, let me first, in short, just shed some light on reservations and challenges companies face with regards to getting top business motivational speakers for organizational success. These factors are discussed in much more detail elsewhere on my website. There will also be an article to offer guidelines soon to help you find a top business motivational speaker who will live up to your expectations and needs. The link to this article will be posted here as well.

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Neil McCoy-Ward MD Forward Thinking Group“I’ve heard the best keynote speakers in the world and Lorne’s presentation was World-Class! A masterclass in professional speaking!” – Neil McCoy-Ward, Managing Director, Forward Thinking Group, UK

Things to consider before hiring motivational business speakers

  • Be willing to get inspired. Much depends on attitude. This is very much in alignment with the way you view life. You can have a bad day and think life ‘sucks’, or you can still choose to look at what is good in life and live accordingly with gratitude. Look at what the expectations and attitude of the audience members are who will attend the event. It should be well considered that the task of a top business motivational speaker is to inspire, inform and energize and help change the way you approach challenges in your job. Expecting from a business motivational speaker to magically turn you into another human being is never going to happen, ever. In short, are you willing to allow yourself to get inspired? Are you willing to embrace a positive message to help kickstart your own desire to change and grow? If the answer is truly “yes”, then you will need to invest in the time to get a top business motivational speaker and be receptive to a powerful message.
  • Choose your speaker wisely. The quality of the speaker and how well he or she can address your specific context is very important. This can shape your perception of business motivational speakers in general, especially in the initial stages of your experience with motivational speakers. Top business motivational speakers can add great value to your company. But a mediocre business speaker will not only add to your expense but also contribute to existing negative perceptions of your company’s culture as well as your overall perception of motivational speakers. It is unfortunate that the motivational speaker industry has no set standards and qualification criteria upon which motivational speakers can sell themselves. It, therefore, becomes the challenging task of the organization to sift through the thousands of available speakers and find one who is truly outstanding whilst being a great fit. There is advice in length on the FAQ page here on how to find the best motivational speakers. Do your homework.
  • A unique message is remembered. How unique and inspiring was the business speaker’s message? Top motivational speakers use stories to entertain and inspire and educate. The reason for that is because audience members learn much easier through stories and case studies. And then the learnings are recalled equally easier. The more unique and entertaining a story is, the easier it stands out and the easier it is recalled. Again, refer to my FAQ page on how to find a top business motivational speaker. 
  • Was the presentation relevant? How applicable was the business speaker’s lessons for your company? It should be kept in mind that when messages or lessons become complicated, training and education must take prominence. Top business motivational speakers must have the ability to bring simple but profound lessons to the table and most of all, make them relevant. There should only be a handful of concepts conveyed in a motivational speech. But these messages must ignite excitement and carry enough power so that they are recalled as key principles in challenging times.
  • Take action steps after your event. What steps did the organization take after hiring a business speaker? For motivation to last, it’s critical to follow up on actions steps to take after you have seen the business motivational speaker. It is highly recommended that your company take action while morale is high, and employees are more willing and receptive to implement what they have learned.

Why do great organizations invest in business motivational speakers?

Undoubtedly, the reason why great leaders invest so frequently in business motivational speakers for their people is that they understand so well how an unmotivated team is a team that is set up for failure. And it is exactly when organizations are facing challenging times, that motivated people are key to survival and success. Every business faces challenges … integrity, competition, customer loyalty, dealing with uncertainty, managing risk, solving problems, attitude, and keeping together the right team.

Top business motivational speakers have the ability to inspire and reignite a company’s vision and mission. Many businesses still embrace the workforce approach that was adopted during the industrial era. Often, this approach is followed because businesses do not know how to succeed otherwise. This involves methods such as politics, demoralizing evaluations, rules, intimidation, financial incentives, or threats to get results. A company’s vision typically reflects its values and aspirations. It is so easy to forget or question its vision when it faces challenges and is put under pressure by its competition.

A person with a positive and motivated mindset finds it much easier to conquer challenges. A motivated person will actively search for solutions in an innovative and strategic manner, unlike someone who is overwhelmed by stress, lack of support, and limited resources. It is exactly here where a top business motivational speaker can reignite the hope, the exhilarating feeling of conquering a challenge, and consequently the level of energy and improved productivity in a company.

Professional business speakers help companies counter or reduce the extreme costs of employee turnover and decreased productivity by reigniting the excitement, belief, and desire for achievement. Typical employee replacement costs (% of annual salary) are

  • 30-50% for entry-level and non-skilled positions
  • 75-150% for professional or technical positions
  • 150%+ for higher positions

Turnover losses can range between 30-400% of an employee’s annual salary, depending on the industry.  Typically, the higher an employee’s position, the greater the loss.

So, as you think about what you really need in your business, you will understand why great business managers therefore value their investment in top business motivational speakers.  It will cost a company the equivalent of six to nine months’ worth of an employee’s salary to replace her. If an employee earns an annual salary of $40,000, the business can then expect to pay around $20,000-30,000 to re-fill the position in the form of separation cost, recruitment cost, and productivity cost. It is easy to understand the need to prevent a cycle of fast turnovers since that can lead to a great economic loss for your business.

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The corporate leadership challenge

What I am about to say, may feel uncomfortable. But I start here for the following reason. The real trouble invariably starts with employees, says Mary Mawritz, a business management researcher at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business in Philadelphia.

Studies found that bosses can become abusive when they feel that employees have turned against them. Other triggers are hostile behavior, rudeness, disrespect, especially when high performers are disrespectful. Management often asks for candid feedback from employees, but it turns out to be to the detriment of such an employee most of the time according to Sutton in his bestselling book, The Asshole Survival Guide. ‘Kissing up’ still proofs to be the best way if an employee wants to get ahead.

Is this true for you? If so, are you willing to grow and become a better leader, no matter how hard it is to hear the truth?


The most important but the most difficult question to answer.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves honestly, “How does my behavior possibly contribute towards other’s behavior in the workplace?” This is probably the most important but the most difficult question to answer.

Ask for honest and candid feedback from someone you trust and be willing to look in the mirror. Sutton refers to dozens of studies performed by David Dunning and Justin Kruger who have shown that poor performers tend to be dilutional about their own skills. They tend to overestimate their talents and that includes their management-, emotional-, and interpersonal skills.

The Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman believes that overconfidence is the most destructive of human biases. If you consider yourself a civilized person but you tend to constantly feel you are dealing with idiots everywhere that you go, chances are that you need to have a serious look in the mirror.

Leadership and talent development advisor, Steve Nguyen probably best explains my reason for asking this question in his tweet:

“To be the best leader, you need to be the best human. As a leader, your humanity is on display for all to see, at work and outside of work. Be a better human, and you’ll be a better leader – it’s that simple (and that hard).”

It is very difficult for us to see how our own role plays out in the workplace. But if this important thought helps you take a long, hard look in the mirror, chances are the problem lies with you.


Admitting your own mistakes builds trust

Being authentic is certainly one of the most powerful characteristics you can bring to the workplace. Admit that you have flaws and don’t be afraid to reveal your own slip-ups. We often try to hide our flaws. What we often forget is that our flaws are visible to everyone and trying to hide them will if anything rather shed the light on you for everyone to see.

Admit your own imperfections and have some fun with it. When employees can see your own vulnerability, you will undoubtedly win their trust and affection. In fact, employees will rather be inspired by your honesty, admit their own weaknesses and become more willing to grow and perform.

If you have trouble learning how to make jokes at your own expense, you can learn from the best examples – get a business motivational speaker. Top business motivational speakers are masters at this skill. Audience members love corporate speakers who do not hesitate to use themselves as an example past mistakes they have made. This makes audience members feel human, accepted, and at ease. And this is one powerful way to build trust and bring in humor in your workplace.

It always pays to be civil

It pays to be civil. Sutton points out how it has been shown over and over again that being rude, demeaning or insulting will only undermine performance. That includes workers’ decision-making skills, productivity, creativity, and willingness to work harder or stay later than the set office hours to finish projects or to help coworkers who need advice, skills, or emotional support.

This will not be the end of it either. When an employee is treated badly, it spreads like a contagious virus. Abusive treatment breeds abusive behavior that spreads to other employees as well as customers. Treating an employee badly undermines trust and reduce motivation, innovation, and the willingness to make suggestions. It also increases waste, theft, absenteeism, and surliness.

To quote Sutton, “… treating others like dirt is contagious—so if you work with a jerk (or, worse, a bunch of them), you are likely to become one too.” I will do a follow-up post on how to deal with co-workers and bosses that treat others poorly.

Professor Bennett Tepper of Ohio State University reported in 2006 that he and his colleagues have estimated that abusive supervision costs U.S. corporations $23.8 billion a year. These costs are based on absenteeism, health-care costs, and lost productivity.


General Practical Tips to counter destructive office behavior

Let’s look at some general practical tips to counter destructive office behavior.

Here I have drawn on tips that were listed by Diane Gottsman which she published in the Huffington Post.

  • Pretending that you are not aware of a problem would rather just build tension between you and co-workers, supervisors or subordinates. It will only fuel destructive behavior and hurt co-worker morale.
  • Avoid reacting to situations. When our own buttons are pushed, it is easy to react to a person or change our own quality or attitude towards our work.
  • Other employee’s bad attitude towards their work can be contagious. We naturally tend to mirror another person’s behavior, and this can easily allow us to behave offensively as well. Make a deliberate effort to appear pleasant and upbeat. Never be inauthentic though.
  • Place employees, where possible, in environments and give them tasks where they perform best. Each person has value. We just need to recognize what it is and utilize it the best we can. In such a way both the company and the employee are set up for a win-win scenario.
  • Be clear on your expectations, task specifications, and deadlines. Communication is key. When an employee does not perform as expected, take time to review goals and expectations. Very often, expectations were not clear.


When is it necessary to fire an employee?

When an employee is demeaning, violent, abusive, disrespectful or cruel, there is a good reason to fire such an employee and rightfully so. However, whenever you do, remain respectful and keep on treating that person with dignity in the same way that you would have treated any other employee.

Keep conversations private and first give them a chance to change their behavior. Very often a person acts out when he works with co-workers or clients who bring out the worst in him or her. Simply moving them to another team, department, or type of work they do can bring along huge change. Honoring employees’ needs and placing them in environments where they can build on their strengths can turn a disruptive employee into an asset for your company.

It does not mean that no action should be taken for disruptive behavior. What really matters is how it gets done.


It is not all your fault

People who are subjected to abusive supervision bear striking similarities to those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, says Tepper. Bad bosses drive people out of promising careers and hurt companies’ bottom line. The best performers have the most alternative work opportunities and a company can, therefore, lose its best people this way.

Self-awareness is key for leaders. Employees can be a real challenge to deal with and this can place a huge strain on you. You can also feel the heat from above and have immense pressure to perform. It can, therefore, become very easy to be pushed across the line and on-the-job triggers can turn you into a nasty aggressive bully. And the bigger the power gap is between you and employees, the greater is the chance that you will give in to being abusive.


The Peter Principle

According to Frederick Morgeson, a business and management expert at Michigan State University in East Lansing, employees who are good at their jobs typically get promotions and become the new bosses. The problem is that the jobs they performed well in before often did not involve any management duties. They remain attached to what they did well and tend to become stressed-out micromanagers.

People in leadership positions need training. Not all leaders are well-rounded individuals. Instead of ‘growing’ leaders, companies often assume that when a person was a high achiever in a specific role, that he or she will naturally be a good leader in a management position.

The Peter Principle comes into force here and is a tendency in most organizational hierarchies. This principle applies to competent employees who keep on getting promoted until they reach a point where they are no longer competent and no longer will receive a promotion. This principle also defines that every position in a given hierarchy will eventually be filled by employees who are not competent enough to fulfill the required job duties.

If companies can recognize the importance of management training and only then promote those who show promise of fitting in the new job role, this cycle can eventually be broken.

Joel R. DeLuca from Yale University wrote in his book, Political Savvy, Systematic Approaches to Leadership Behind-the-scenes, how organizations may unintentionally create Mach managers. This is where organizations help breed competitors and “turf builders” who are ambitious manipulators rather than team builders. Savvy politics can be a very powerful tool when it is used to the benefit of the overall organization and every member thereof. If not used ethically, it can poison a company where promotions become an exercise in favoritism and bosses pick on the powerless.


Workplace incivility continues to rise

The biggest reason why workplace incivility continues to rise, according to Christine Porath in her article “Does it pay to be civil? Or do Jerks get ahead?”, is stress. People are overwhelmed and do not have the tools, skills, and mindfulness to deal with stress.

A second reason for incivility can be ascribed to the fact that people believe they will appear less leader-like and to their fear of not being in control. However, studies by Morgan McCall including those with Michael Lombardo, have shown that the biggest reason for an executive’s failure is when such a person exhibits an insensitive, abrasive or bullying style.  They have found that the second most cause for failure is when a person shows aloofness or arrogance.

Know yourself and know your employees’ strengths

The way different people can deal with a task can differ vastly simply because people’s thinking processes are so different. Focus on building on your employees’ strengths and maximize their performance. The Gallup Strengths Center offers a great test which employees can take to identify their best qualities and how to best utilize those strengths. The Wall Street Journal mentioned this tool in February 2015 and reported that more than that 457 of the Fortune 500 use the Clifton StrengthsFinder tool for employee assessments to improve on its human capital practices. That is more than 90% of all the Fortune 500 companies. It is a tool that can open you to amazing new insights.

Must Read Summaries offers

a short but insightful summary of the book “Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow”

Leaders tend to excel in one of four specific areas.

  • Executing
  • Influencing
  • Relationship building
  • Strategic thinking

If you are a great leader, you will know where your strengths lie and build a team of individuals around you who are exceptionally strong in the areas where you are weak.

Within these four domains, the Gallup Organizations has identified 34 themes which can make up effective teams.

For example, let me list two themes to illustrate better. One theme around an Executing leadership style is a person with the Achiever strengths. Such people have tremendous stamina and can work very hard. To lead achievers, you need to work alongside them and build trust, call on them often, and surround them with workers.

Another theme around an Influencing leadership style is a person with the Activator strengths. Such people make things happen. To lead activators, you need to give them responsibilities, yet encourage them periodically and listen carefully to their complaints. They need to know that you genuinely care.

If you know your strengths and your employees’ strengths, use this tool to build effective teams and place employees in environments where they can flourish.

There is no doubt a vast number of resources available to assist businesses to excel and grow. Bringing in resources from outside your company such as top business motivational speakers on a regular basis can also assist in lightening your own responsibilities and help you build great relationships with those with whom you spend such a big part of your life.

Lorne Sulcas - The Big Cat Guy


Lorne Sulcas - The Big Cat Guy
Top International Motivational Speaker
Charleston, South Carolina, 29407
Tel:(USA) +1 (770) 999-0447
Tel:(ZA) +27 (72) 833-3555


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