Understanding the Motivational Mindsets in Your Team

When it comes to motivating our teams, we often default to the carrot-and-stick approach, assuming everyone is motivated by achieving goals and reaping rewards.

But here’s the twist – not everyone operates with a “towards” motivation.

Some, like myself, have an “away from” motivation, being driven by avoiding mistakes or failure.



Is This About Our Disposition?

Let’s be clear, this isn’t about being an optimist or a pessimist.

Even the most optimistic individuals can operate with an “away from” motivational mindset.

Understanding this distinction is pivotal in bringing out the best in those we lead.


Real World Application

The insights I’m sharing with you today come from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP.

It’s not just interesting psychology, though; it has real-world applications.

Consider a fascinating experiment conducted in Germany with football (soccer – for my American friends)  players.

‘Towards’ motivated players were told to score three out of five penalty kicks, and they did just that.

‘Away from’ motivated players were tasked with not missing more than two, and they also scored three out of five.

However, when the script was flipped for the ‘towards’ motivated players – aiming not to miss more than two – they generally missed more than two!

Incredible, right?

This experiment vividly demonstrates the real-world impact of understanding motivational mindsets.


Understanding Our Team

So, how can you discern and leverage these motivations in your team?

It’s simpler than you might think.

Observe how individuals respond to goals and objectives.

Towards motivated folks thrive on clear goals, tracking progress, and feedback. They like to clearly understand the milestones on the path to success or their reward.

On the flip side, away from motivated individuals respond well to understanding the consequences of failure. They excel with clear deadlines, appreciating the urgency that comes with them. Rather than focusing on ideal goals, they benefit more from knowing common mistakes to avoid. And don’t forget, they value rules and guidelines as guardrails to steer them away from failure.


Over To You

I have three simple questions to help you apply this knowledge.

  1. How can you use this knowledge with your team and peers?
  2. Why must you use this knowledge?
  3. When will you apply this knowledge?


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Until next time, keep looking after those you have the privilege and responsibility to lead.

Your coach,

Corporate Whack Attack


Photo by Zuzana Ruttkay on Unsplash

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