Leading Effectively – Intrinsic Motivation

“A task without a vision is drudgery.

A vision without a task is but a dream.

But a vision with a task is the hope of the world.”

(Inscription on a church wall in the county of Sussex, England)

“Since the mid-1970’s, new theories have emerged to focus on intrinsic motivational processes and on the “self-systems” that determine an individual’s behaviour. So far, management is mostly unaware of these new developments” . For example, the results of a research study conducted by Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard University showed that creativity will be highest when there is strong intrinsic motivation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRnvox6_o2M).

Intrinsic motivation is itself the “outcome,” the result of a work situation that people enjoy–because they are in charge, because they have the opportunity to acquire new skills and abilities to match a different challenge, or because they are part of a successful team. Intrinsic motivation leads to astounding creativity and productive energy that seems to have virtually no limit .

Intrinsic motivation, then, is motivation that comes from the inside of a person. It is an emotional preference for a task that gives us pleasure and enjoyment. Intrinsic motivation arises from having a strong emotional interest in an activity and a sense of freedom and autonomy related to it.

Intrinsic motivations tend to be deeper and more personal than extrinsic motivations. And self-motivations are, by definition, intrinsic. The following motivations are likely to be intrinsic :

  • Enjoyment of the work itself for its own sake
  • Desire to have a “piece of the action,” such as sharing visions, missions, leadership, authority, and responsibility
  • Pride in performing excellently
  • Need to prove some secret point to oneself
  • Achievement of a deep-seated value (such as helping another person)
  • Having a deep and abiding belief in the importance of the work one is doing
  • The excitement and pleasure of a challenge
  • Desire to exceed one’s previous level of job performance (being self-competitive).


In Reaching the Peak Performance Zone, Kushel states that the following actions are likely to motivate peak performers:

  • “Trusting and being trusted
  • A mutual mission
  • TQM
  • Benchmarking
  • Quality circles
  • A mutual, measurable objective
  • A quality work life
  • More money
  • Psychic income” .

There are three important characteristics or conditions for achieving high motivation levels in the organizational climate. :

  • Job control/autonomy
  • Learning
  • Teamwork

If you feel you are being micro-managed and are in a situation where you ‘just do’ without thinking then their is no psychological engagement in the work. having the ability to come up with ideas, try things differently, take risks is actually what organisations need today.

Learning all the time is important, if you do not feel you need to know more about a subject soon you will go stale, keeping up to date with the latest thinking is important to be that step ahead of the game.

Teamwork is incredibly important for one reason alone, and that is you know others ‘have your back’. that there are people you can trust, that support you what ever happens. This gives the freedom to be yourself and grow as an individual.