We’re excited to continue down the path of Emotional Intelligence (also known as “EQ”)!
The past few weeks, we’ve been working through the five different themes of EQ, and today we’re focusing on theme three: Motivation.
Claressa: I get pretty excited when we talk about motivation from an EQ perspective. I think what most excites me is the fact that when leaders show motivation (and we know that all great leaders show that motivation), it manifests as a drive for them to achieve beyond expectations.
“Motivation means not settling for the status quo.”
There is a constant questioning — “Are we doing things in the most effective way possible?” — that forces leaders to take an in-depth look at best practices. Motivation means not settling for the status quo. It’s not that you have to fix things that aren’t broken; you simply need to understand what opportunities are available in order to work toward continuous improvement.
Martha: Absolutely. It’s important for someone with a high level of motivation to not be comfortable with the phrase, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it!” The fact that you’ve always done something in the past is not a reason to continue to do it in the future. Highly motivated folks are always looking to improve… always driven to do better and work toward a sense of accomplishment at work.
I think that’s a very cool thing. Many of us have goals we want to achieve, but a high sense of motivation in the workplace means that your reason for achievement is for the sake of achievement itself.
Claressa: When we’re talking about leaders like that, who are “achieving for the sake of achievement,” we get a glimpse of an elevated kind of passion for the work that they do. I think that passion drives the creative challenges that are out there, and allows them to truly take ownership in that “job well done.” They’re striving to constantly exceed expectations or raise the bar of performance.
Martha: That’s a very good point. Someone with a high sense of motivation does, in fact, raise the bar. By changing the status quo, they are raising the bar for those around them as well. They’re either giving permission or challenging people to do better, to strive for more, to stretch themselves. So while it really is about self-motivation, it acts as an unconscious opening for others to be motivated as well.
Claressa: It sounds to me (and you know me — I love the competitive edge) like you’re describing a competition. When you have the energy and the constant drive to improve, you tend to keep score. You watch those “achievement metrics,” track your progress against yourself and what others are doing in order to propel forward. That’s, quite frankly, pretty cool, and it lends back to that idea of continuous improvement. I think back to when you and I were working together as motivational leaders. With that intense drive of motivation, we were able to conquer around 20 different projects of continuous improvement in a year.
Martha: I absolutely agree that those with a high sense of motivation tend to keep score. What is unique about a highly motivated person keeping score, however, is that they use those metrics productively. As they work to achieve, win, and do great things, they don’t let negative numbers stop their progress. When the metrics don’t go the way they’ve planned, there’s no pity party. Instead of seeing failure, they are able to step back and say, “Okay. What went well? What didn’t? What are our next steps?”
“For a highly-motivated person, it’s not failure; it’s simply another step.”
Claressa: Would you agree that it’s really a mindset shift? It goes back to one of my favorite sayings, “No is not No, until No is No.” It’s that competitive edge, that strategic optimism as you seek a new approach to something that didn’t go well the first time. For a highly-motivated person, it’s not failure; it’s simply another step.
Martha: That’s the beauty of having a leader with a high sense of motivation. They encourage not only themselves in times of perceived failure, but they encourage their team to strive higher, to do more, to reach their goals. There is no anger, no punitive steps when a goal isn’t reached. They offer permission to reset, try again, and continue to reach forward.
Claressa: This can be traced back to the overall leadership of an organization as well. It seems that when leaders are motivated, when they’re allowed to use their strength as a leader, you’ll see that emotional intelligence truly shine. An organization that allows freedom of growth drives a sense of engagement, especially for a leader who knows they are supported. That kind of support can elevate a leader’s commitment level and ownership in an organization.
Martha: It’s a very reciprocal thing. Leaders with a high sense of motivation are very loyal to a place that allows them to be successful at work. An organization that encourages and allows leaders to be successful creates an environment of loyalty — it’s a positive circular relationship that allows continuous growth and improvement… all while maintaining engagement.
And our moral?
Claressa: Motivation is a must for an effective leader. Engaging in this theme of emotional intelligence not only allows you to be the best that you can be in a leadership role, but also allows your organization to excel. That reciprocating factor ensures that you love what you do and that your organization benefits overall for allowing you the freedom to grow.