Motivation as a driver for effectiveness

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
Motivation is the source of energy to overcome challenges, pursue a goal, or maintain commitment. If you are in a leadership role, how much strength does your team have today? Are people coming into work full of energy or even excitement? Or are they dragging their feet with dark circles under their eyes?

Most people aren’t anywhere near to realizing their creative potential, in part because they’re laboring in environments that impede intrinsic motivation. [TERESA AMABILE]

Many studies say – and common opinion agrees – that leadership creates value. However, leaders don’t create the results themselves. In fact, in checking all the variables, only 10-20% of an organization’s success can be directly attributed to the leader’s efforts. While that’s significant, it’s clear that the subordinates represent the real ‘human capital’ – it is the remaining 80-90% that generates the success. So the leader’s contribution isn’t so much from direct action, but from understanding and engaging others. This requires building a shared sense of purpose and direction, setting mutual expectations, and setting up each person for success which is ultimately all linked to motivation in some way or another.

By now I am sure you are thinking what you can do to motivate yourself or your team going forward, which brings us to the pulse points of motivation.


To increase motivation, develop these three components otherwise known as Pulse Points:


In a frenetic and fast world, people are struggling. Stress is increasing. People are losing sight of the real goal. They feel bombarded by change, especially as their companies and bosses keep trying new approaches. Leaders are often guessing and reacting to external pressure and people are losing sight of ‘the big why’ – the reason we’re actually here. When they disconnect from meaning, they also lose their energy and motivation. For this reason, it is so important for a leader to develop a vision that is seen as meaningful.

We need to get people to move together in the direction that we’ve chosen, to do so, ensure that people understand where we want to go and why. And if you are not in a leadership position you should be asking these questions to get clarity and direction and with that build your own motivation.


Addressing weaknesses in business at performance management conversations is the opposite of motivating. From school, most of us learned that the way to develop is to see our faults, to see where we’re failing and to fix that. Working on people’s strengths is faster and more powerful. Of course we can’t ignore problems, but consider a 80/20 ratio: once the person has a minimum skills required for the role, then we can focus on their strengths. Once one has the basics then focus on their strengths rather. It is time for leaders to identify people’s strengths and then to play these and let people use their talents accordingly.

If you are not in leadership you can still discover your own strengths and talents and use these to propel your own motivation and move yourself forward. Many of you have done my EQ workshops and may remember the strengths exercise that you each did, remember how that made you feel when you saw the strengths that your colleagues had written about you!


How does it feel when others are controlling you and you have no choice? Today, people at work want to have a sense of empowerment and freedom to choose. On the job, we are adults, and we feel more fulfilled in work if we perceive that we are captains of our own ships. Organizations today don’t want employees to just do as they are told, they want employees to give more and want their full commitment. We need to give people the objective and be open to multiple solutions. Sometimes this open approach is slower to reach a decision, but in the end, involvement creates motivation and lets people go far faster. Of course, involving people in the decision is not always possible, but every time we can, make the opportunity to raise people’s intrinsic motivation.

Therefore, as a leader give power and space for people to make decisions and own their results. If you are in a follower position, get involved wherever possible and take the responsibility and accountability needed.

As one can see from the above, motivation plays a very significant role as a driver for effectiveness and to achieve this we need to allow for meaning, mastery and autonomy. So give it a go and see how motivation spirals into a new dimension for yourself, your team or your organization you work for.