How to Motivate People: Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation


To be an effective leader, you must have a deeper understanding of what motivates people. Finding out what motivates people (or your team) will improve overall performance. If someone asked you right now, what motivates you? Will you be able to answer this question confidently? Some people will answer, “Yes, I know exactly what motivates me!” The real challenge is understanding how to motivate other people.  

There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation. Extrinsic motivation is used most commonly across the board. It has been embedded into many industries for decades. Especially in business/sales. Unfortunately, this approach is ineffective long-term. YES, it works for short-term thinking but absolutely not long-term. In fact, research suggests that when people are intrinsically motivated by their work they are more likely to succeed.  

There are many ways to activate intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by intangible rewards such as informal and formal recognition, expressing gratitude towards the other person, dedicating time to get to know people professionally and personally, understanding other’s life outside of work and what gets them excited. Ultimately, it’s treating the person with respect, compassion and like a human being.  

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by tangible rewards such as rating, ranking, monetary rewards and incentives. As well as, focus on punishment for errors or mistakes made. The downside of extrinsic motivation is that it shifts the focus from the aim of the system. It can also be counterproductive to learning. 

The bottom line is intrinsic motivation is the most effective approach for long-term thinking, but must be a balanced out with some extrinsic motivation. People also want to be rewarded and compensated for their hard work and dedication! 



Tina Le