With less than 100 days before the presidential primaries begin and another debate gone by, the candidate race is really heating up. Will it come down to Trump vs. Carson for the GOP? Will Jeb Bush make a run or it is too late? Does Sanders stand a chance against Clinton?
How will you decide? Is your mind made up already? What are you looking for in a candidate? Although the candidates are working hard to contrast their positions from those of their opponents, consider a different distinction that is just as important; how they are motivated towards their goals.
In this first installment of a two-part series, I will outline the difference between internal and external motivation and show why it’s relevant to leadership at all levels. In part two I will use it to analyze the top two candidates in each party and predict what we can expect from them in the future.
Goal motivation can’t predict the what a person’s goals are (you’ll have to listen to the candidates to find that out), but it can tell you a lot about how they will behave in the future. Research by Dr. Taibi Kahler has shown that people differ on whether they are internally or externally motivated, sometimes a combination of the two depending on their personality structure. Our experience with leaders and successful change agents has further shown the following;
Internally motivated leaders consult their internal world of plans, values, and relationships for motivational energy. They are responsible, principled, caring and dedicated. They work hard and stay the course on their priorities. They are loyal to their constituency. They are not easily swayed by external forces.
The downside of internally motivated leaders is their tendency toward dogmatism and prejudice. They are eager to criticize those who have opposing points of view, and can get so stuck in their own internal frame of reference that they lose touch with reality.
Externally motivated people look outward for their motivational energy – the next opportunity, exciting challenge, risk, or unexpected event. They are responsive, opportunistic, and persuasive. They use resourcefulness to get what they want. They will take great risks for the big payoff. They are easily influenced by what’s going on around them and are extremely responsive to external forces.
Externally motivated leaders do not, by nature, aspire towards internal values and principles. This can be exceedingly frustrating for internally motivated persons, who can’t understand why they are so fickle, unpredictable, and seemingly self-centered. The dark side of these types is that they are prone to self-serving behaviors and will more likely put their own interests over the collective good when in distress.
Here’s a summary of the bright and dark sides of each motivation.
Recognizing internal and external motivation is a great way to predict behavior of your leaders. it also helps have realistic expectations of how they will behave and why they do the things they do. The most gifted change-agents recognize, appreciate, and leverage both types of motivation for maximum effectiveness.
In my next post I will analyze the top two candidates from each party and share insights into why they do what they do and what we can expect from them going forward. Subscribe to my blog and get my posts pushed directly to your e-mail.
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