Emotional Intelligence: Motivation (Part I)

In an ideal organization, all members would be intrinsically motivated and would go above and beyond the call of duty. To accomplish this, you must learn how to wield intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

As you build your organization, you’ll need to understand how to attract and retain dedicated members. The reasons why an individual takes a certain action can fall, roughly, into two buckets: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is an individual’s desire to do or accomplish something because it brings them a sense of internal fulfillment, community, or happiness. A person who is intrinsically motivated will go above and beyond the call of duty. They will work long hours without being asked and make sacrifices for your organization willingly. That being said, the cultivation of intrinsic motivation can be slow. Extrinsic motivation, in comparison, is motivation focused on external rewards, whether they be position, money, prestige, sustenance, or another tangible gain. The benefit of extrinsic motivation is that it’s quick and easy. On the other hand, people who are extrinsically motivated rarely do more than what’s required of them, and they will stop complying the moment the extrinsic motivator disappears.
Ideally, you want an organization full of individuals who are intrinsically motivated to ensure your team’s success. In order for a person to become intrinsically motivated, they need to have stayed on the team long enough to feel as though it’s a part of their identity. They need to have contributed enough time, energy, and resources to feel as though they’ve invested in the organization. Intrinsic motivation will build if two factors are present:
  1. The individual stays on the team long enough to become invested in the organization and its people. This is a passive process that occurs in almost all organizations given time.
  2. The individual feels as though the organization actively cares about his/her well-being, and he/she wants to reciprocate.
Let’s begin with the first point. While it’s preferable to have an organization that’s filled with intrinsically motivated members, people will stay with an organization for a variety of reasons. These reasons, otherwise known as motivators, are intrinsic or extrinsic in nature. There is an important difference between an extrinsic or intrinsic motivator and extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. A motivator is a tool you can use. Extrinsic motivators might include providing food at an event, conducting skills training, or providing certificates of accomplishment. Intrinsic motivators might include planning social events, establishing a community, and setting up mentor/mentee relationships. You can use intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to attract individuals to your organization, and you can build events that incorporate such motivators to keep those individuals around.
The mission of your organization along with the school’s general culture will both influence the types of candidates that will join your group. Depending on their disposition, these candidates will act more favorably towards either extrinsic or intrinsic motivators. However, a person can still develop intrinsic motivation towards a group and its activities regardless of the preliminary reasons they joined.
CS2: Many students joined Consult For America in order to boost their resume and become more attractive to potential employers. However, over time, many students developed a relationship and became invested with their client and their teammates. Despite joining for extrinsic reasons, they developed intrinsic motivation.
Your role as leader of the organization is, in essence, to understand the types of people that are present at your school and the types of people that will be attracted to your organization’s mission. You will then utilize either extrinsic or intrinsic motivators to secure talented applicants and retain them.

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