leadership motivation mike cardus

Are leaders motivations different than others?

No, they are not. The term ‘leader’ is just another way of saying a person who is helpful in a situation when you need help. I had this discussion, in Buffalo NY, with a series of workshops focused on leadership, above is a picture of the chalkboard at the end of a seminar called “What Motivates you, what motivates others?”

Within the discussions, the idea of people seeing, interpreting, and being motivated by different core, developmental, and behavioral influences kept coming up.

Leadership is contextual interaction

Leadership is dependent upon the environment:
  • Leadership happens through people within a specific context (i.e., work, sports, hiking, cooking) and through two or more people interacting (someone has to have the knowledge to share, and someone has to find that experience helpful). 
Leadership focuses on others:
  • Leadership is not about you or your introspective wonder; it is about others and how they react and respond – extrospection. 
  • This other-focus supports self-reflection and developing the wisdom to change how you work with others and how to be best-supported achieving organizational and personal goals. Other-focus happens before the self-focus.
Leadership is fulfilling others motivation while keeping your motivation needs met:
  • Understanding what motivates someone else and keeping their motivation full is what good leaders do.
  • Also, knowing what motivates you and how you can keep your self-motivation fulfilled will keep the extrospection healthy and focused.

In the class, we broke leadership motivation into 4 Catagories. This discussion was supported using a behavior lens called Essential Motivators by Matrix Insights.

leadership motivations and making a difference Mike Cardus

Motivated by Aesthetics – those that want the work and the outcomes to look as good as they can. We came up with a Steve Jobs example and the story of how Jobs wanted the inside of the Mac to look as good as the inside. Another student shared that when she feels overwhelmed writing a paper, she finds motivation in working on the paragraphs indentation, the font and font size, the look of the paper she is writing.

Motivated by Usefulness – those that want the work and the outcome to be useful, a more pragmatic motivation. The class discussed that people in this category are motivated to ensure that the product gets used in a way that people value. An example would be an engineer who designed a cheap car, that did not look that good but it was affordable, and people were able to use it.

Motivated by Truths and Theories – those that seek research and know that what they are sharing is the most accurate and aligned with a set of agreed-upon principles on which the work and outcomes are based. The class discussed a researcher who enjoys reading through journals and papers to create and share an improved or new way of doing the work.

Motivated by creating an Idealized Meaningful World – those that want to make the world better and have a dream of how the work and outcomes will make the world better. The class discussed someone in a nonprofit or helping profession who believes in social equality and is motivated to make the world better.

We found the discussion of leadership motivation to be most useful by framing the following discussion based activity:

Leadership Motivation Discussion
  1. Choose a current challenge you are having with another person
  2. Try to categorize the other person’s motivation.
  3. Share an example of when you have seen this be helpful, share an example of when you have seen this be hurtful.
  4. Try to categorize your motivation.
  5. Share an example of when you have seen this be helpful, share an example of when you have seen this be hurtful.
  6. Identify 1 to 3 ideas on how you can approach this person differently, supporting their motivation needs.
  7. When one of your ideas is working well – what will you be doing differently? What will the other person be doing differently?

Many of the students found this discussion helpful.