"So you think you're a motivator? ... Think again!"


As a manager/leader, how do you ensure that your colleagues (sometimes called employees or staff) produce their best work? Do you think that they will be motivated to do so as they waken in the morning and think … “Another great day being told we are not meeting our targets and that we’re behind budget for this quarter!”

Our understanding of motivation and management generally has not moved on since the end of the 19th Century/beginning of the 20th Century. “Its central ethic remains control; its chief tools remain extrinsic motivators.” (D. Pink) The carrot or stick as motivators are still prevalent in many organisations. In his book, ‘Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,’ and based on research by Harry Harlow and Edward Deci, Daniel Pink states “that most businesses haven’t caught up to this new understanding of what motivates us.” Unfortunately the majority of businesses still believe that motivation is achieved through some form of the Carrot and Stick approach. In relation to goal setting for example – used in some form or other by many organisations - he warns …  “Goals may cause systematic problems for organisations due to narrowed focus, unethical behaviour, increased risk taking, decreased co-operation and decreased intrinsic motivation. Use care when applying goals in your organisation.”

Motivation is not something you get from another person or from external circumstances. It is intrinsic, it is a feeling, an emotion. Any motivation that we experience comes 100% from within … directly from our thoughts, as indeed do all our feelings. We create our human experience and reality from our thoughts and feelings – from the inside-out – so we cannot be motivated by someone or something else, full stop.

David Bohm, the famous physicist, explains, … “Thought creates our world, and then says, ‘I didn’t do it’”

Good leaders can, however, help to create an environment in which people can choose to self motivate. The leaders’ role therefore is “to set inspiring examples born from clarity and understanding.” (G. Kramer*) Genuine leadership is not about driving, pushing or cheering people on or suggesting practices or tools to motivate them. “It’s about showing others that motivation rests within them.” (G. Kramer) Check out one of my previous blogs for the approach taken by Brendan Venter as Director of Rugby with Saracens Rugby Club.

The bottom line then is that motivation comes 100% from within!

* Garret Kramer: The Path of no Resistance




Charlie Jackson