What Makes for Good Motivation?

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

This time of year is pretty hectic for those in academia. The holidays are heating up and finals are quickly approaching. Inevitably, I find myself wondering “why do we do this to ourselves?” Motivation causes persistence to complete a certain course of action. In academia and professional settings, a lack of motivation can cause serious problems.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic can be more successful because it can serve as a more long term incentive to pursue a goal. Pride, sense of self-fulfillment and commitment to the mission of the organization are intrinsic motivators that can drive people to work harder and deliver exceptional results.

Some examples of extrinsic motivators are pay, promotion and title. Money and labels are strong initial rewards, but they often wane in significance rapidly. In class, my professor gave the example of a chair. During her tenure at a university, her director asked what would make her happier and give her a sense of appreciation. For her, it was a new chair to put in her office. This chair served as a reminder that she was valued, and her supervisors listened to her. It reinforced her committment to the organization. A pay raise would have been nominal, and would not have had such a lasting impression.

So, understanding the different types of motivators, I can see why students are willing to put themselves through these tense times. Yes, the promise of career advancement and financial compensation are plausible. I think that the satisfaction of realizing your goal of a masters degree is a more powerful intrinsic motivator. As you complete this semester, what is motivating you through the last days of finals?

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