Find a Balance of Tools
Now it's time to go beyond the basic principles and get a bit more practical. The result of the cookie-cutter approach is usually disaster because you're trying to adopt something intended for a different group of people with other needs and problems. As such, it is far from ideal. But there are techniques that can help.
Positive Versus Negative
A standard piece of advice that you may hear from motivation experts is that positive motivation is always the best choice and that negative motivation is bad. This is not entirely accurate.
First, negative motivation is an odd concept. You can't coerce or force someone's connection to meaning. Imagine trying to extort someone into being inspired. It wouldn't work. There isn't really such a thing as negative motivation. However, there are both positive and negative reinforcements. This is the punishment/reward model. You pair a pleasant reward for doing a task with a consequence for failing. That may work for trained animals, but it is belittling for people and unworthy of a leader.
There are leaders who use negative emotional associations to obtain their ends. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in his treatise on power,
Charming, eh? If people are so untrustworthy, they will continue to be so, even if you lead through fear. The world is full of stories of rats fleeing a sinking pirate ship. Not only are they still ready to desert you at the first opportunity for personal gain, but fear begets hate. Therefore, it's a safe bet that they will actively seek ways to make your life miserable. So much for the Prince's advantage.
In the early fifteenth century, Machiavelli was exiled from Florence — a sentence that was often considered equivalent to death. The year after being banished, he wrote
Stick with positive motivation and leave the behavioral science for researchers and laboratories. If you're worried about the lack of consequences, don't be; they are always there. People can get fired or look foolish or be embarrassed. They already know this from a lifetime of reinforcement, so don't belabor the obvious.
Problem Solving and Barriers
You can't motivate people so dogged by practical concerns that they can't lift their heads up to see anything beyond their immediate problems. In such cases, you need to help your team move beyond these temporary barriers and find something more than bureaucracy. Concentrate on those problems and brainstorm to help people find ways around the blockades. When they see some actual progress, team members will be more receptive to motivation.
Motivation and Culture
Organizations and circumstances differ greatly. The cheerleading meetings of salespeople in a company might do little for a group of social activists in an inner city. But there's no way to be sure ahead of time what will and won't work for your situation. Try some intelligent experimentation.
Consider the demeanor, interests, and personality types of the people on your team. Then consider activities that would match and motivate them. Don't be too timid; if you are, you will never try anything that hasn't been done before, which means you'll keep doing the same things and expecting different results.