Motivation is a simple and often underestimated topic, and it has fascinated me for over a decade. It is the fuel that lights people up. Many executives are unaware of what motivates them both at an intrinsic and extrinsic level. How many people do you know—this could be you—who are competent at their jobs but are never totally fulfilled, happy or living on purpose? It is important not to do only what you are good at but also what you enjoy. There is a big difference here.

While working in corporate organisations, out of numerous roles, there was only one role I never really enjoyed (although I was good at it). Thankfully, all my other roles lit me up and energised me. I was more productive in these roles as they didn’t feel like work. I call the role I didn't enjoy, a gift. I discovered that what didn’t make me happy was a valuable insight for my future to ensure I took on only roles and job functions that I enjoy. You know you are doing what you love when you go to bed Sunday night and look forward to the next day. That’s how I feel now that I am running my practice, but there are others who experience the ‘Sunday-night dread’. You know, that feeling where you don’t want the weekend to end, you’ve had your dinner, and you are still looking to fill the rest of the night up, so you don’t have to face the week that looms ahead.

Research shows that attitude and motivation can account for more than 60 per cent of the formula for job and organisational success.

As a leader, you need the skill and knowledge, but these wear off if you are not truly motivated. People think they know what motivates them and others, and they simply manage this. What they really need to do is identify and map motivation, then feed, and satisfy these motivations. Find them, feed them and flourish and not only will people be happier but also more productive therefore maximising performance and engagement. In my practice, I have briefed hundreds of executives and SLT teams on what motivates them using the iWAM profiling tool to map motivation. The iWAM (Inventory of Work, Attitudes and Motivations) tool recognises that we have 48 different motivations at work, and it identifies these in order of preference. (I call them tapas plates—some are prawns, and some are jellyfish.) Aside from using a tool to profile motivation, it comes down to building rapport and understanding the individuals you work with. Ongoing open conversation, coaching and mentoring can open this space so you map what truly lights them up and can, therefore, leverage and compliment this as a team and organisation.

There are many neurological drivers of human behaviour that work in conjunction with understanding your motivations and attitudes. When I visualise these, I see a person holding a marionette in front of them with all the drivers sitting behind the puppet, resulting in what we see as behaviour and action. Some of these drivers include values, beliefs and your model of the world. We have our own references and see the world based on our own perspectives and experience. We all have knowledge and skills in certain areas, and these can be developed, changed and evolved depending on our focus. We also have our own identity, which can change depending on where we are in our journey. Be mindful that we tend to base our beliefs and values on how we see ourselves. If we go from working in a team to working on a team, we need to view our identity differently as we have essentially evolved from employee to employer. Don’t hold on to your old identity. Be mindful that as you grow and change so does your identity, and how you and others see yourself. Find out what lights you and others up and revisit this regularly, as it will change over the course of a role and career.

The first step is to take a step back to understand what motivates us at a deep level. What fuels us to do what we do every day? Only by having a deep awareness of this can we can delve into and understand what motivates those around us, including internal and external stakeholders, our team and the clients with whom we may interact. By understanding motivations, we can complement and leverage strengths, match language to build subliminal rapport and influence and create a high-performance culture.

I look forward to hearing about your map and track motivation and how this leads to energetic performance of your team, self, and organisation.



Renée has published her first book “Limitless Leadership” – A guide to leading from the inside out.

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Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished author, facilitator, speaker, trainer and coach who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations.

She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation, communication and connection. Working with executives and SLT teams, she maps and designs motivation to maximise performance and engagement. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication and transition leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.

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