What Motivates You?

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ever wonder what motivates people?  Why people do the things they do?  Why some are so focused on getting ahead, while others prefer continuity?  Why some pour themselves in to their work, while others find great balance in work and family life?   Or do you wonder what keeps people engaged with one organization when bigger opportunities or higher pay might exist ‘across the street’?

I’ve spoken about the importance of culture in developing a high performing team and I truly believe culture is a key driver in motivating people to remain engaged in their current employment.  In the companies that I’ve managed, we worked hard to develop a culture that embraces its employees.  One that rewards its team members for good performance, and supports them when they stumble.  A culture of trust and respect, of integrity and honesty.  I’m proud of that culture and of all of you who live true to it.

But culture is only part of the equation.  In the end, if that culture doesn’t embrace the different “motivating factors” important to all its employees, it won’t succeed.  Culture must be multi-dimensional, and it must “cultivate” the right drivers.  And that’s where individual motivation comes in.

So what is motivating to our employees?  What do we as individuals find important in motivating our behavior as part of the team and contributing to its long term success?   The answer to that question holds the key to developing a culture for long term success.

I recently sat in a presentation with one of my colleagues from Right Management (Ron Raque) who spoke specifically to these questions.  I thought it worth sharing – to help provide a better understanding of yourselves and your fellow team members.  The following comes from a book titled Managing the new Careerists by C. Brooklyn Derr, and speaks to the five primary factors that motivate us as employees/team members:

  • Getting Ahead – Those motivated by getting ahead.  Those who view money, status, promotions/positions, etc. as measures of success.
  • Getting Secure – Those who seek security – Financially; In their roles/responsibilities; In their career achievements.   They see success as security.
  • Getting Free – Those who seek freedom and autonomy.  Free from rules and regulations.  Free from corporate bureaucracy.  They find success in their ability to control their own destiny.
  • Getting High – Those who find excitement and passion in what they do; in the difference that they make.
  • Getting Balanced – Those who seek harmony in their work and family lives, and measure success in their ability to balance those.

To be fair, no one measure/factor accounts for the entirety of an individual’s motivation.  But they are important to understand – and building a winning organization includes acknowledging these factors and creating an environment where its team members can find success in all of them.

So, what motivates you?

8 thoughts on “What Motivates You?

  1. If an organisation has well structured programs around encouraging people to take on new assignments and challenges with proper support not compromising on core values like integrity honesty ..it can create motivation and can inspire one and all to contribute to the growth…

    This will need to be an organisations DNA ..employees see around a few individuals going up the ladder by any means and few others simply following since only those means seem working and have become an acceptable norm of motivation.

    Structured programs can help overcome such hurdles..

    • Itsn’t it funny how so many leaders miss out on this point? I believe the single most important job of a leader is creating the right culture. Creating an environment where team members can be successful, are respected for their contributions, and are rewarded for thier efforts. That’s not just in finacial means, but emotionally as well.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  2. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

    This quote by Maya Angelou is relevant to not only the 5 primary factors of motivation, but also the importance of company culture you reference in the beginning. With our everyday interactions with clients and coworkers we need to be mindful of how we talk and what we do, because to each person there is a different meaning and “feeling.” An additional aspect is emotional intelligence, which plays a key role, and is a driver for how you handle the type of motivation you possess.

  3. Pingback: Software Development Consulting Madison WI— Five Motivations to Lead By

  4. Great post on the 5 primary factors that motivate us. Everyday, we work with our clients that remind us how important it is that we get the right culture fit for them. Thank you for sharing and igniting the thought process within all of us as to what really does motivate us.


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