Do you ever find yourself saying to your children “what on earth made you do that?” I do! On first glance there appears to be no logic or common sense behind the action, but when you think like a child for a moment, all becomes clear. “Of course you had to break up that Lego spaceship that we just spent HOURS building to find the one piece of Lego you thought you needed for something else but now don’t??!!” The concept of time, effort, a task fulfilled, a Lego model actually finished, obviously means something to me but possibly means nothing to my 8 year old son. He just needed that one piece of Lego and that was that!

This reminded me of a client who came to me wanting to define and develop his leadership style. In answer to my question “what motivates you?”, he said “money”. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable answer, doesn’t it? Yet as we began to work together there was a realization that actually it was very little to do with money, but more the process of accumulating wealth. It almost didn’t matter how big the pot of money was. The fun and enjoyment came from the process of acquiring it, the challenge, the drive to succeed, the journey of ups and downs, the need to be busy, the need to win, the need to be the best he could be, the buzz of a “deal”. Now we were getting to the root of what motivated him and therefore what drove his behaviour, and consequently his leadership style.

From this place of heightened self-awareness new choices present themselves, and decisions are made far more easily because you know what it is you want. Sure, you can actively self-manage your motivations and drivers to suit different situations but I don’t believe you can fundamentally change who you are. You need to accept who you are and manage it to best effect. We are an accumulation of all our experiences, some so engrained in our subconscious mind (Freud can tell you more about this!) that sometimes we struggle to even identify them, let alone understand why.

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs
You may be familiar with Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ which puts physiological needs right at the base of the pyramid. In other words, once all of those needs are satisfied you can move on to the next layer and the next, until at last you feel fulfilled. I was wondering where in this theory the notion of personal motivation sat because, for some of us, our motivations are almost a basic human need, so strong they feel similar to that of the need for love, or security or even water. These “drivers” may become harder to control under pressure and so for those in leadership roles, for example, it is important to understand how personal motivations maybe influencing your style and behavior, and therefore the impact it may be having on others.


How much of an influence do your drivers and motivations have on you and your behaviour? Do you even know what they are? If you would like some help understanding what motivates you and why, then please get in touch.