2 min read

I don’t know about you, but I experience a tinge of skepticism when I hear about an upcoming “motivational seminar” or about someone who is said to be “a great motivational speaker.” I know folk who have come away from such events feeling their lives had changed for the better. My question, however, is always, “How long will their euphoria last?” The problem is that quick fixes rarely alter the root of the problem and, unless we extract the root, the problem will sprout again and sometimes with a vengeance.

There are, however, some things we know about motivation that may help us as we try to help others accomplish great goals.

1. An Inner Drive to Make a Difference

All adults posses an inner drive to accomplish something significant in their environments and lives. Humans have an innate urgency to find meaning for their existence. It is invigorating when a competent leaders invites you to discover meaning for your life. Leaders can count on the presence of this inner drive in their followers. It may be buried under layers of past demoralizing organizational experiences. Yet, a skilled leader can bring this desire for meaning and significance to the surface.

2. A Desire for Competence

All adults possess an intense desire to be effective in doing the things they value. If a leader can discover those values and show how the follower’s work will help them be more competent in activating their own values, then motivation will be a natural result.

3. A Hunger for Understanding

All adults have an intense need to understand themselves and their world. Helping employees to understand the underlying principles and values that drive the organizational vision will go a long wary toward motivation. Too often, in the past, leaders have sought to keep such knowledge from lower-level employees, reserving such understanding for the top management team. This is a mistake. The more we can spread understanding and knowledge throughout the organization, the more we will see a motivated workforce.

Motivation is an ever-present factor in organizational life. We must think of it as an essential component of our strategic plan at every point in the process: planning, execution, and evaluation. In designing a strategic plan, a leader must include factors that enhance these inner motivational drives.
Tapping into these intrinsic impulses will enhance motivation.

The leader need not attempt the impossible task of creating motivation or resorting to external motivations that last only as long as the external causes are present. The more effective and ethical approach is to strive for intrinsic motivation by drawing from the well of these basic human impulses.


Photo by composita, Licensed under CC0 1.0.

Portrait of Dr. Waddell

Dr. Greg Waddell is passionate about helping church leaders equip their people for ministry. He believes there is wild potential in every believer that begs to be released. He can help you develop and implement practical strategies for increasing the ministry capacity of your congregation.