Understanding Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
We all know that feeling of being motivated to do something. That drive pushes us to accomplish our goals. But have you ever wondered where motivation comes from and how it works? There are two types of motivation to examine: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the drive that comes from within, while extrinsic motivation is the drive that comes from external sources.
Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that comes from our desire to do something because we find it interesting, enjoyable, or personally satisfying. For example, you may love playing the piano, which brings you immense joy and a sense of fulfillment. This is intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from external factors, such as rewards or punishments. For instance, you may work extra hard to complete a project because you were promised a bonus if you finished it on time.
While extrinsic motivation may work in the short term, it’s often fleeting. The problem with extrinsic motivation is that the drive to do something only lasts as long as the external reward (or potential punishment) is present. As soon as the reward is taken away, the motivation often disappears. This is why leaders who solely focus on extrinsic motivation may struggle to motivate their team in the long term.
Leaderologists who study leadership and organizational development understand the importance of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is much stronger because it comes from within the individual. It’s a drive that stems from a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Autonomy is the feeling of being free to do what is necessary and choosing to do the right thing. This means allowing individuals to make decisions and take ownership of their work. When individuals feel they have control over their work, they’re more likely to be motivated to complete it.
Competence is the feeling of mastery – getting better at something that matters to the individual. People are naturally driven to improve and become better at what they do. When individuals feel like they’re getting better at their job and are accomplishing something, it drives their motivation.
Relatedness is multifacited, but generally, it is the feeling of being connected to something bigger than themselves – such as a team, vision, or purpose. People are social beings and thrive when they feel part of a community or team. When individuals feel part of something bigger than themselves, they’re more motivated to work towards a common goal.
So, why does intrinsic motivation work better than extrinsic? Individuals with a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are more likely to be motivated because they feel like they’re in control, are accomplishing something, and are part of a community. That combination is significantly more powerful than carrots or sticks. When individuals are motivated by these internal factors, they’re more likely to stay motivated even when external factors like rewards or punishments are removed.
So, how can leaders foster intrinsic motivation within their teams? The answer lies in leadership style. Leaders who foster intrinsic motivation within their team often lead with a transformational leadership style. Transformational leaders inspire their teams to improve, provide them with the tools they need to succeed, and create a culture fostering growth and development.
Transformational leaders understand the importance of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, also known as Self-Determination Theory. They allow their team to make decisions and take ownership of their work. They provide their team with the necessary resources to develop their skills and improve performance. They create a culture that fosters collaboration, communication, and community.
Attending leadership development programs emphasizing transformational leadership and avoiding pseudo-leadership ideas is a fantastic way for leaders to learn to foster intrinsic motivation within their teams. These leadership development programs teach leaders the skills they need to become transformational leaders. These programs provide leaders with the knowledge and skills to understand the importance of intrinsic motivation and how to foster it within their team.
Transformational leadership development programs typically cover emotional intelligence, communication, conflict resolution, and building high-performance teams. These skills are essential for leaders who want to create a culture that fosters intrinsic motivation.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions and those of others. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to understand their team’s needs, essential for fostering autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Communication is another critical skill for leaders who want to foster intrinsic motivation within their team. Effective communication is essential for creating a culture of collaboration and openness. When individuals feel like they can communicate openly and honestly with their leader, they’re more likely to feel like they’re part of a team.
Conflict resolution is another important skill for leaders who want to foster intrinsic motivation within their team. Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, but leaders who know how to manage conflict effectively can turn it into an opportunity for growth and development. When leaders can help their team resolve conflicts, it fosters a sense of autonomy and competence.
Building a high-performance team is the ultimate goal of any leader who wants to foster intrinsic motivation. Again, when individuals feel part of a high-performance team, they’re more likely to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They’re also more likely to be motivated to achieve the shared goals and contribute to the team’s success.
The truth about motivation is that intrinsic motivation is much stronger than extrinsic motivation. Leaders who focus on intrinsic motivation by fostering a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness within their team are more likely to create a culture that drives motivation in the long term. Combined with leadership development, transformational leadership is the key to fostering intrinsic motivation within a team. Leaders who invest in their development and the development of their team are more likely to create a high-performance culture that drives motivation and success.
Pro tip: avoid novice programs that teach impractical leadership styles.