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Find what truly motivates you and follow that path – Leimon

by: Averil Leimon, leadership psychologist at White Water Group
  • 11/08/2023
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Find what truly motivates you and follow that path – Leimon
To find your true motivation, you need to ask yourself a few questions: How well do you understand what drives you? How has this changed throughout your life and career? How strongly does this factor in the roles, projects, and people that you seek out? How different is everyone else’s motivation?

What motivates you is a vital question in coaching.  

With our clients, even investment bankers, it is most often not about money. Insufficient financial reward in recognition of what you do, has the capacity to dissatisfy, but once you reach a certain level it isn’t usually the key driver. Few people will turn down a raise, of course.   

Ask yourself, ‘what gets me out of bed in the morning?’ Here are some responses: 

  • I need to pay the bills 
  • I want to get my teeth into that new project 
  • I like being my own boss 
  • I’ve thought of a new strategy 
  • I’m excited about that team meeting 

After your first conventional response, think more deeply. Shallow motivators give a here-and-now buzz. Deeper motivators add meaning and purpose to life.  

Here are some key drivers: 

  • Monetary reward – the ability to support the lifestyle you desire 
  • Power and influence – the opportunity to make things happen 
  • Search for meaning – to feel part of something bigger than yourself 
  • Expertise – to have specialist knowledge you can put to use 
  • Creativity – finding new, better way to do things 
  • Affiliation – working well with others to pool inspiration and combine output 
  • Autonomy – enjoying independence, taking both responsibility and blame if necessary 
  • Security – wanting a certain predictability  
  • Status – recognition, admiration and respect for what you do  

Identify your drivers 

My key drivers are expertise and autonomy. I love knowing all about human behaviour and how to access maximum potential through strengths.  

I’m happy to take responsibility for the business, without the safety net of a big organisation. However, I’m not very good when people tell me what to do. Especially in areas where I am, in fact, an expert.  

You can also demotivate me by making me wear that lanyard with a dog tag round my neck when I enter your building. The person high on affiliation will, in contrast, love that sense of belonging. 

To develop the best life and career, you need to work out what motivates you. Then be sure that your motivational needs will be met.  


Apply that to leadership

Next, if you want to lead others you have to recognise that none of them, even the ones appointed in your own likeness, are likely to share the same drivers as you, so don’t offer them what you would want in that situation but instead ask them what would get them excited or make life worthwhile. 

Modern leadership is all about leading difference – personality, gender, ethnicity, age. You are not a mind reader. One size does not fit all. Yet again, everything hangs on communication and asking a few choice questions. 

Here’s one of the very best from positive psychology: ‘Tell me about a time when you were absolutely at your best’. 

The clues will all be in the story they tell. You can take it from there. 

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