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12 definitive traits of a leader: Part 2-Motivation

Monday, May 2, 2022 | by Jeff Custer

Motivation is defined as “providing someone with a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious” or “stimulating someone’s interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.”

Let’s break this into two different aspects: what motivates us and where does it come from?

What motivates us? I’d say that money tops the list for many people. However, if you think about it, it’s not really the money itself but rather what that money can do for you. It’s the power that money affords in social status, job and life security. Money also helps take away the fear of the future unknown because having money increases the certainty of your situation tomorrow.

We are also motivated by things that feed our ego.

We could come up with many other motivators but much of it seems to boil down to managing future risks and rewards and feeding our egos.

So, if we know motivates us, where does that motivation come from?

I think the great myth behind motivation is thinking that it comes from outside ourselves. That we’re driven to do what we do because someone else tells us it’s what we want. Now if you’re a leader, you’re probably thinking that that’s exactly what you do to help your team accomplish goals. I’m challenging you to change that mentality.

I prefer to say motivation is internally driven and externally influenced.

With so much going on in the world, it’s easy to lose track of why we do what we do. And the influence of someone else to redirect, clarify, and remind you of the why is invaluable.

Effective leaders have to go a step further and be self-motivated. They need to stay highly motivated without the need for external influence.

Here are four ways you can become and stay self-motivated:

  1. Have clarity in what you want to achieve. Highly effective leaders know their deeply held values and what they intend to accomplish. Focus (last week’s topic) helps leaders be self-motivated because you don’t forget your why.

  2. Commit to what you want to achieve. Coupled with clarity, you have a commitment to reaching your objectives and don’t waiver in the pursuit of attaining your goals.

  3. Take initiative. Go on the offensive to take advantage of opportunities presented to you. Some people might call this luck, but you know that it’s a result of determination and ruthless persistence.

  4. Have a great attitude. Leaders must stay resilient in the face of adversity. You might say that giving up isn’t in your vocabulary.

Effective leaders are skilled at remaining motivated without much external influence. You know your why and doggedly pursue it.

How are you motivated?

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We’re exploring the 12 definitive traits of a great leader. If you missed the first post on focus, read it here. Subscribe to The Leadership Almanac newsletter that forecasts ways and ideas to level up your leadership.

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Jeff Custer is a long-time leader at both private and Fortune 500 companies where he has developed and led both high performance individuals and teams. He is passionate about developing leaders and building high impact teams. Jeff resides in the United States.

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