Motivation – The Role of the Leader

Many believe that all behavior is motivated by needs. Motivation comes from forces that are lkibbeyincollieracting either on – or within a person to initiate behavior. Whatever we believe our needs to be at any point in time determines our behavior. When the need is great, so is our motivation for fulfilling the need.

So what motivates leaders and their employees? This is the question I asked recently at a workshop full of leaders. The answers for this group centered on being challenged and empowered; having opportunities for growth (personal growth and the growth of the company); teamwork; and being appreciated for the work they do.

In fact, their opinions agree very much with what we know to be true for most employees in the U.S.

  • People want to be challenged – they want their work to be exciting – and meaningful.
  • Having an opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization and at the same time experience personal growth, is essential for keeping employees engaged.
  • Great working relationships with coworkers – and with the boss – play a key role in employee retention.
  • Expressing appreciation makes people feel they are valued and when we feel valued we are motivated to contribute at a higher level.

So what happens to de-motivate our employees? We need only to look back at the work of Herzberg to understand what satisfies and what dissatisfies. Satisfiers are mostly those things that are within our control – the best satisfiers come from within us (intrinsic). Dissatisfiers come from things we cannot control such as:

  • Not having the opportunity to use our personal strengths.
  • Decisions from upper management with no perceived attempt to ask for input resulting in a variety of problems such as unnecessary rules and poorly designed work.
  • Coworkers who are performing poorly and are getting away with it.
  • And money – but only when we feel we are being paid unfairly.

Ask yourself this question, “What makes me work hard?” If you take time to really think about this you will most likely conclude that you work hard because you get personal satisfaction when the job is done the way you know it needs to be done.

Leaders have the ability to create an environment where every employee can perform at their highest personal level using their unique strengths. The challenge is to do all that you can to allow your employees to achieve internal satisfaction without creating barriers that take away their ability – and basic need – to be self-motivated.


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