Unlocking the hidden power of Intrinsic motivation

Without using carrots or sticks

Reading time: 3 minutes.

Good morning; feeling refreshed? โ˜•๏ธ

Welcome to a new issue of your favorite newsletter about all things leadership.

Today, we're exploring three things every leader needs to know to motivate their team without using carrots or sticks. We're not bunnies, after all... ๐Ÿฐ

As someone who has led teams for over 20 years, I've learned that knowing what motivates people is essential for getting the team to perform at its best. But have you ever noticed that some people seem naturally more motivated? In contrast, others might need constant encouragement to stay on track.

Thatโ€™s what weโ€™ll break down today.


Encouragement and motivation are two sides of the same medal!

Encouragement is like an espresso shot; it boosts a person's drive in the moment.

Intrinsic motivation is like hydro-energy. It is always there!

๐Ÿ™„ Let me be honest; I've used sticks and carrots often early in my career. But I've learned that The key to unlocking intrinsic motivation lies in understanding what drives people.


Last year I read two books that went very deep into this topic. They are now among my favorite books on human motivation in the workplace:

Pick them up; you won't regret it!

Let's dive into three things I've seen most effectively activating intrinsic motivation.

The words "them" and "their" includes everyone in the company, leaders included.

Here we go:

Make their job fun and playful

Have you ever played Monopoly? Pretty enjoyable game, right? Now imagine that everything you do while playing the game is predetermined by one person. What numbers do you throw with the dice, which city do you buy, and how long do you stay in jail?

How much fun would the game be?

You'll play it for 5 minutes and lose your complete motivation!

Don't be that leader. Let people play the game their way but within the agreed board game rules. It encourages creativity, injects humor, and creates team-building and bonding opportunities. It makes help your team stay motivated, but it will also create a positive and enjoyable work environment.

We call that: "Play."

๐Ÿ‘€ Here's how I spot a lack of play in my client's organizations:

  • ๐ŸŸฃ High staff turnover rates due to lack of enjoyment in work.

  • ๐ŸŸฃ Decreased productivity and engagement.

  • ๐ŸŸฃ Lack of creativity and innovation in problem-solving

Make them part of the company's vision.

"Leaders must be visionary." To me, this sentence is overused and has lost its power.


"Leaders must be visionary." To me, this sentence is overused and has lost its power.

I agree that work can feel meaningless and uninspiring without a clear purpose. I've seen many teams open up like beautiful blooming flowers once they understood the big picture.

But just having a vision is not enough. You must make people fully part of that Vision. Let them co-create it, and include them in setting the objectives. It will be a personal development journey for everyone, something Gen Z especially demands in the workplace. 

๐Ÿ‘€ Here's how I spot a lack of Vision and inclusion:

  • ๐ŸŸฃ Reactive approach rather than a proactive approach.

  • ๐ŸŸฃ Higher rates of absenteeism and burnout.

  • ๐ŸŸฃ Difficulty growing the organization past a glass ceiling.

This week I hosted an online webinar on what I call: โ€œThe Next Generation Leader.โ€ You can watch the recording here if you like:

On to the last point!

Make learning and development the #1 Focus.

People want to grow and develop themselves. They want to feel like they're progressing in their careers and making a difference.


I felt stuck in learning and development,

and left the company

When I felt stagnation in my self-development and learning after five years in the same CFO Position, I felt stuck and left. It wasn't the only reason, but it contributed to it.

And when learning and development stagnate, it is most of the time the best horses in the stable who find their way to greener pastures.

That's why everyone on the team must have a personal development and learning plan. And not after a year or so, but from day 1. You'll get stunning results and retain your best people for years.

๐Ÿ‘€ Here's how I spot a lack of learning and development in teams:

Motivating your team isn't about using carrots or sticks to drive performance. It's about understanding what drives people. Then use that to create an environment that supports intrinsic motivation.

I want to encourage you to unlock your team's true potential by making their job fun and playful, making them part of a clear vision, and focusing on learning and development.

๐Ÿ™๐ŸผThanks for reading; you got this!๐Ÿš€

See you next week.


When youโ€™re ready to get guidance in leadership & organization at your agency, here's how I can help:

๐Ÿ‘‰ 1:1 coaching for leaders - weekly sessions to guide you in setting a solid leading vision for your company

๐Ÿ‘‰ Minimum 3-month management team consultations. Iโ€™ll become a weekly part of your team to work on a visionary plan together.