Motivation And Transparency: The Conversation Continues

Today’s post is a follow-up to our June 21st discussion: What Motives You: 360 degree Perceptions. I challenged you to explore your motivation through introspection and conversation.

  1. Write down 3 or 4 sentences that you believe truly describe what motivates you.
    e.g. “To challenge people to grow toward their full potential”
  2. Identify 5 or so people you trust to give you candid feedback. Ask them to tell you the complete truth. Then ask, “What do you think motivates me?
  3. Listen and consider. Jot down your reactions. And your reactions to their comments.
  4. Join back on July 1st to share whatever feels comfortable. This “was cool. I learned a lot” works, no need for massive self-disclosure. Of course, we’re interested in all you’re willing to share.

Now for fun part, let’s discuss. If you didn’t play, it’s not too late.

My Motivation

I wrestled with how much to share of all this, I don’t want my blog to be about me, but about helping you. Then again, I thought if I shared more deeply, you might too. Please forgive me if this is too much. What motivation makes me wrestle with that dilemma for 3 days?

What I think motives me:
  • Growth, mine and others (that’s what gives me a rush)
  • Exciting challenges (I love to climb big mountains)
  • Accomplishment (and fear of not accomplishing)
  • Competition (I do hate to lose)
  • Doing the right thing (and changing bad guys)
What my team says motivates me:
  • Becoming a Region President
  • A supportive boss that lets me manage to my style
  • A cohesive direct report team that works well together
  • A good challenge
  • Having fun while working hard towards a big goal
  • Developing employees to become better leaders
  • Being in an energetic environment
  • Being in the field with the frontline (not in the office)
  • Being part of leadership transformation
  • Having a platform to share her ideas
  • Positive movement (growth). “that growth can be in a number of areas like the growth of an idea or a career, movement in performance or organizational growth. You can see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she sees or can create growth”
My Family

“You want to DO. You have never been one to sit on the sidelines and observe. At all times you want to be actively engaged. And you want your involvement to make a difference. You want to DO WELL. You want to be successful at what you do. Doing something poorly is not in your make up. You want to DO GOOD. You care about people, about injustice, about indifference and unkindness. You want the world to be better because you are here. You want the PEOPLE around you TO DO WELL ALSO. You want to help people be the best they can be. You want to be RECOGNIZED for WHAT YOU DO. You are not one who wants to work quietly behind the scenes. Limelight does not hurt your complexion. You are keen on providing appropriate recognition for all – I think it is one of your defining characteristics as a leader and as a person. I think it is also significant what people are not motivated by. A few typical motivators that are not drivers for you include: things, trappings, money, fear, insecurity.” ~ Dad

“I think you are both motivated by moments. You are passionate about creating them, leading others to make them collaborative, successful, and memorable. Dance routines in the front yard. Swim team parades. Sorority events. Tie-dyed running shirts. Workplace music videos. All the work stuff we don’t see. Sometimes it may be for the sake of the show, but mostly it’s for the sake of pushing others past their comfort zone and into new experiences and things they didn’t know they could do.” ~ My Brother


It’s intriguing to see the commonality and the diversity in the responses. The one surprise was that no one mentioned “competition” which I consider one of my darker motivators. I’m not always proud how that manifests. Perhaps I’m working to hide that more these days.

A few observations:

  • Motivations are more transparent in some situations than others
  • People’s own motivations impact they perceive our motivations
  • People are perceptive
  • Context matters

Please Share Your Story

If you played along, please share your story. If not, it’s a game worth playing. Start with reflecting now. What do you think truly motivates you? What would team, friends and family?

Inspired by Nicole Lipkin’s What Keeps Leaders Up at Night

Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

sebastian   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

What motivates me:

• I want to make the world a better place for other people… and for me
• Getting to use my imagination

I asked Pop Pop. He said a lot of cool things. My favorite was…

“He seems very interested in individuals. He has a great ability and interest in “picking up” people, approaching them and engaging in conversation.
(People in the aggregate seem to attract him less.) However, he spends much of his time engaged in adventures in his own mind. A gregarious introvert?

He also said, “He is a contrarian. On the other hand, he is a contrarian.” I had to argue with that point ;-)

“He is quite interested in God, and trying to figure her out (or maybe he thinks he has already done that, but he will get over it.)”

My uncle says…

“Seb seems driven by the magic of the moment. It’s the game. The jump. Saying the prayer at a family gathering. The use of recently gained knowledge. Sometimes it’s for the sake of the show, but mostly it’s for the adventure and the thrill of something he’s never done before.”

That’s all true. I hate it when people pray and they are insincere. Praying is important to take seriously.

I had fun doing this game. Bring on the next one!

Dave Tumbarello   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Thanks for your reflections & that of your family. I am motivated by work. Believe it or not, the easier the task, the less I want to do it. I haven’t queried my friends & family, so I don’t know what they would say. A very intriguing exercise, though. (I could make a list a dozen items long, but the word above would be somewhere at the top.)

letsgrowleaders   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Dave, Thanks so much. Yeah, easy stuff bores me too ;-)

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Karin- I am living now a motivation experience. On this blog I exchanged comments with Matt McWilliams. I got motivated to subscribe to his blog, to comment. I am motivated by great ideas, by discoveries, by exploring and by acknowledging others.
I expressed my acknowledgement by dedicating my today presentation “Extended metaphors for Information flow” to Matt. The presentation is a fruit of dialogue on this lovely site.

letsgrowleaders   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Ali, So great to see you back here. Thanks so much. Delighted that you connected with Matt! Love your slide show.

Jean (Karin's mother)   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

When Karin was a teenager about to enter high school, I said to her, “You might want to try out for the cheerleading squad. I always wanted to be a cheerleader and worked very hard to learn all the cheers and I tried out for the cheerleading squad, but didn’t make it. As it turns out, I was a first runner-up.” Her answer to me was, “Actually, I think I’d rather play in the game.”

Well, this is what I want to tell you. What I think has happened is that you turned out to play in the game and also be a cheerleader. Keep up the good work.


letsgrowleaders   |   01 July 2013   |   Reply

Ali, So great to see you back here. Thanks so much. Delighted that you connected with Matt! Love your slide show.

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   02 July 2013   |  

Karin, you responded to me twice. I think you meant this one to you dear MOM. You couldn’t find the words to match her kind, endearing and nostalgic comment. This got you confused. I don’t blame you.
This teaches me a lesson- sometimes we are so motivated that we may get de-motivated!!!

letsgrowleaders   |   02 July 2013   |   Reply

Mom, Thanks so much for being my cheerleader. Namaste.

Bob   |   02 July 2013   |   Reply

I can’t believe I missed this yesterday! I’m on family vacation this week, so my days are a little messed up…Viva La Quebec!

My experience was funny. I had two different responses. People either had no idea what to say or they said, “well that’s easy, since you talk about what motivates you all the time”.

I can’t say that many of the things I heard surprised me. Teamwork, accomplishing goals, creating excellence, etc. The tough part for me was finding out how little some people think about motivation; mine or theirs.

I’d say one thing that did catch me off guard is that more than one person thought I enjoyed defending leadership. A kind of sucking-up. I sure never thought I would hear that, since I used to be so critical of our leadership. However, I made a switch several years ago once I realized that my comments were damaging and gossipy. Now, if I hear someone talking trash, I try to stamp it out. I guess to some, that can come off as sucking up.

There’s a lot to learn with something like this. I still have more work to do. This has definitely inspired a post or two on my end as well. ;)

Thanks for the push Karin!

letsgrowleaders   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply

Bob, Thanks so much. I hope you are having a great vacation. I had a few that had no idea what to say… which seemed weird to me too. Stamping out damaging gossip is always right. Thanks for playing.

Hugh Evans   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply

Karin, thank you for your candour. I’ve only just come across your blog. I’d like to add / offer a little scientific rigour to the whole issue of motivation. And in so doing, I refer to Maslow whose seminal work on motivation is, in my view, under utilised and often misunderstood. I think this is for two reasons. Firstly, when you see the hierarchy and have got the idea of satisfying needs is the core of motivation and it is the movement ‘up’ the hierarchy which drives you to seek more – then that’s it , right? Move on. Secondly, how do you measure ‘motivation’, how do operationalise the hierarchy so that it becomes useful to practitioners. Well, most will think you cannot measure motivation as such. And this is why I think that Maslow has not played much of a practical role in people development. Well, can I introduce you to a body if work based entirely on Maslows work which really reflects the complexity of human motivation and drives. The work has also produced a short test which will enable you to measure your values (and it is these that drive your needs and create your motivations). So, in reference to the title of this blog – motivation and transparency, go and explore this work and bring some rigour and science to the process of bringing light to motivation and drives – in essence, why we simply have to do the things we do. Here is the link – I have no vested interest in this work, other than more people need to access it so that its potential can be exploited for good in the world.

letsgrowleaders   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply

Hugh, GREAT! Thanks for adding to the LGL community. I hope you will continue to participate with your fantastic contributions. I will take the survey, and report back.

letsgrowleaders   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply


Cool assessment

My results. Seems consistent with what I heard from my informal inventory.

Your values orientation is that of PIONEER/TRANSCENDER

People with a PIONEER orientation often have the following characteristics:

Trying to put things together and understand the big picture.
Concerned about the environment, society, world poverty, etc.
Always looking for new questions and answers.
Strong internal sense of what is right and what is wrong.
Strong desire for fairness, justice and equality.
Self-assured and sense of self-agency.
Generally positive about change, if it is worthwhile.
Cautiously optimistic about the future.

Dawn   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply

Well better late than never…I still have one more interview that I plan to make through this experiment, but I will go ahead & report since I am 2 days late as is. I have really enjoyed this over the last week or so. Here goes:
What I believe motivates me:
-To make a positive difference in someone’s life or just their day
-To challenge the status quo
-To connect people who may otherwise not easily connect
-To bring out the best in people & help build their confidence

What others say motivates me:
Out of the 4 people I have interviewed so far (3 co-workers/bosses & my mom so far) they agreed with what I had said & made these comments in addition:
-“challenging the status quo is like breathing for you”(you don’t put yourself in a box or see many boundaries based on your job title but you use wisdom in that & its powerful.)
-expansion of your influence
-how the big picture will be affected
-a challenge
-coloring outside the lines (you have the ability to make something happen that others can’t) (agent of change through initiative)
-motivated deeply by making a difference in people’s lives
-people’s view of me
-desire to provide for family
-having a partnership with my husband in whatever we do

In addition to what motivates me, I added a question at the end of the interview to ask what areas I could work on & better myself with. This has been very insightful, humbling & motivating for me! Thanks for the challenge Karin!