Research Articles

Motivation vs. Inspiration

Motivation vs Inspiration, in the past was the same meaning, but the word motivate was so overused it simply became a cliché. I have always found that the best results, and ultimate performance, come from team contributors who are inspired. Motivation is a fleeting characteristic.  Inspired team members are self-driven; they don’t require an outside stimulus to aspire to greatness.

As an entrepreneur, I have spoken to many peers who identify their greatest team challenge as getting others to buy into and own the bigger picture of the organization. Basically, getting people “caring” as they do. Doing this is hard, since the founder’s perspective is built on pride, passion and the promise of unlimited success. How can you inspire someone to rise to that level and truly be bought-in without a significant vesting program?

Sometimes we give up on this hope of inspiration and settle for simple motivation. Along with that comes the rationalization of “good vs. okay” performance and ultimately we settle for something far below the vision we once had. Complacency soon leads to mediocrity and once that happens the end is not far off.

What is required to avoid this trap is patience, diligence and hiring for character. All too often I see leaders laser focused on the traditional competencies necessary for the position and follow the typical behavioral interviewing process only to discover that the person hired lacks the inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit to successfully execute.  I don’t fully embrace the concept of a behavioral interview to catch all of the needs. In fact, I find that a “situational” interview is much more effective in identifying the character traits I am describing.

Open ended questions with leading topics will help derive the “what ifs” in someone’s actions: Asking a person what they would do in the first six months to generate business reveals a lot about their experience and also opens the door to additional questions which speak to their circle of mentors, network of relationships, and most importantly whether they have a dynamic approach to the business, the agility to turn on a dime and the inspiration to do what it takes to satisfy client needs. These actions are most important to me because they are real and not emotional reflections of a behavior.

Back to the point then, how do they connect? When you find a person who cares, and one that would “act” in line with your vision and mission, as validated during a situational interview, you will have found someone that can be inspired and not motivated. And when that happens everyone wins.

Written by, Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.