Whilst in Kandy, Sri Lanka, we had the opportunity to visit a tea processing factory. We were taken on a guided tour by a wonderful young woman who earnestly explained the process of making tea. From picking, to drying and fermenting and grading the product.

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The factory was part government owned and was built early last century and the processing machinery was largely from the middle of that century. The factory was sweltering and there was much manual handling required by the women who worked there. Some were well into their twilight years with toothy grins and leathery skin and yet they continually smiled as they toiled away. 

As we walked around, I began to notice A4 laminated sheets of paper with motivational quotes on them dotted on the walls and sitting on top of various piles of equipment and processed tea. I was fascinated. Whilst the young woman was attempting to fulfil her responsibility to explain the grading process I was asking who had placed the inspirational quotes around the factory.

Finally, after much pestering, she introduced to George – the factory manager. George explained that the idea had been the previous factory manager’s initiative but he had moved on in 2013 – apparently he had taken a more senior position.

I was keen to know where the idea had originated, what else had been done, what impact the strategy had on staff and productivity, where the manager had gained his knowledge but my curiosity remained unsatisfied and George did not seem to understand the nature of my inquiry – wasn’t I here just to be informed about the tea making process?

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I left the factory with a renewed sense of curiosity. Are motivating factors universal? Can you discuss leadership insights across all cultures? Do staff in ‘servant’ countries respond more to positive reinforcement? Is there a greater appetite for leadership development? Have some Western societies become apathetic to leadership development? Does success make us complacent?


What do you do to positively affect the motivation of your team?

What is/is not effective when motivating your team?

What is your current level of motivation?

What motivates you?