Motivation Part II: Igniting Intrinsic Motivation: A Leadership Imperative

In our previous article, we looked at the importance of making a self-motivation a strategy, and how to build habits around this area of self-development. Here, we’ll delve into the dynamics of motivation, the role of company culture, and strategies for igniting intrinsic motivation in your team.

Extrinsic motivation is a fundamental of leadership – addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, such as salary, conditions, bonus, rewards, recognition, showing people they are valued. These external factors can drive performance and satisfaction to a certain extent. However, it’s crucial to recognise that they are not the sole drivers of sustained motivation. To drive actualisation and high-performance, igniting intrinsic motivation in others is key – providing people with a sense of purpose, autonomy and an opportunity for mastery.

People need to feel that they count; that they are doing a great job, are adding value, are making a difference. They need to feel challenged, stretched, that they’re developing. All these elements come from within but may need a leader to blow on the embers and ignite the fire of self-motivation.

But motivating others in the workplace can be a formidable challenge, and leaders often find themselves grappling with a lack of motivation among their teams. Understanding the root causes and knowing how to overcome them can make all the difference.

The part that culture has to play

A strong organisational culture fosters a sense of belonging, purpose, and shared values. When employees resonate with the culture, they are more likely to be self-motivated. However, it’s important that leaders don’t take a strong culture for granted – assuming that everyone is on the same page can lead to disenchantment. A leadership that cultivates collaboration, innovation, personal growth, keeps asking questions of its employees—and listening to the answers—fuels intrinsic motivation.

Pushing through when everyone is ‘stuck’

There will often be situations where teams feel stuck or demotivated. During these times, it’s essential to trust the team to find their own way forward. Encouraging people to take ownership, show belief in their abilities, and assigning challenging tasks that stretch their potential will help them grow and gain confidence. But it’s also important to support employees on their ‘stretch’, not just dump tasks on them and let them struggle.

Making group habits

Building group habits can be a powerful motivator. As we explored in the last article, making motivation a strategy, developing consequential thinking and defining aligned goals are powerful tools for building successful inherent responses to challenges. Establishing routines that promote teamwork, creativity, and self-improvement, and regularly reinforcing these habits creates a culture of continuous improvement.

Be kind – but don’t be afraid to challenge thinking

Becoming really good at offering great feedback is a key skill for leaders. Treating employees as human beings with feelings and their own phenomenology is obviously fundamental. But ultimately, nobody gains from not addressing areas for improvement, which left, can start to impact other members of the team, as well as the employee’s own intrinsic motivation.

Top Tips

While extrinsic motivation has its place, true leadership excellence is about igniting the motivation that lies within each team member. By understanding the contributory factors, nurturing a positive culture, and applying effective leadership strategies, you can inspire your team to sustainable high-performance and drive organisational success.

  • Trust people to do things their way.
  • Show unwavering belief in your team and assign tasks that stretch their abilities.
  • Offer support during their growth journeys; don’t leave them to struggle alone.
  • Be kind and recognise their efforts and achievements.
  • Challenge their thinking and self-belief when necessary to foster personal growth.

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes around motivation, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected]

You can read Part I here