The Future of Motivation - by guest Michael Shell


In the industrial age when Leadership was a title given to the highest ranked executives and was perceived to be a quality that you were born with, motivation came by the carrot or the stick. The thinking behind this was that people were essentially self-serving and lazy and would only produce for the company if they feared punishment or promised rewards.

You could argue that this is an exaggeration and there are exceptions. However, I think it is safe to say that this was the sentiment that prevailed during the industrial age and lingers on today. As we transition to a new leadership mindset we need to think about motivation anew.

As Leadership Coaches, during these hyper-competitive globally-connected times, we often support Leaders who struggle with how to motivate their teams effectively. What I have found effective is to utilize an inside out approach.

Leaders need to be aware of their intrinsic motivators and express them to their teams authentically and passionately. When expressed in this way intrinsic motivators we automatically connect with others because these are the same intrinsic values we all share! They are qualities of our life force and it is part of what makes us human. A Leaders authentic expression of his/her internal values creates a safe environment for their people to do the same.

Additionally, there needs to be a clear understanding of how their intrinsic motivations connect to the organization’s purpose. People need to see how their work contributes to this purpose.

As we transition to a humanistic leadership style we begin to understand deeply what is meant by the statement that an organization’s most valuable assets are its people. As an organization’s workforce connects their individual purpose to that of the organization’s their motivation levels and loyalty to the company increase. An intrinsic connection to one’s values also ensures that their ability to adapt and innovate increase.