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Leaders Motivate Others, But What Motivates a Leader

Motivation is one of the crucial traits of a good leader. He drives his people towards the common goals, mobilizes their emotions, and encourages and empowers them to accomplish the desired tasks. However, have you ever thought about what motivates a leader? Where does he draw his inspiration from?

Every leader has a clear vision in mind. He has an ambition that keeps burning like a fire inside him. This fire also fuels passion within him. Vision, ambition and passion together become the ingredients for a leader’s motivation.

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However, a leader’s motivation can be either altruistic (philanthropic) or egotistical (self-centered). This motivation usually arises from their personality, environment they live in or role models.

The German politician and founder of Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler is remembered as one of the cruellest dictators and military leaders in the history. It is believed that his racist ideology and hunger made him the leader that he was. His selfish motives were mainly responsible for the Second World War and Holocaust.

On the other hand, there was Mahatma Gandhi, the man whose altruistic philosophy inspired the entire nation of India to fight for the independence from the Britishers. True to his words, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, he lived his life the same way. The ‘larger good of the society’ was the motive that drove his leadership.

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As you can comprehend, it the ‘purpose’ that is the inherent motivator for any leader. These purposes can be related to power, money, fame, status, social good, relationships, emotions or mission. Depending on the purpose that a leader is set to achieve, he then guides his followers accordingly. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, world renowned business educator and coach, on his personal blog has a very valuable motivation lesson for leaders:

Don’t become a leader because you are looking for a reward from the outside. Become a leader only if you will find your reward on the inside. You can only inspire the people you are leading if you are inspired to lead.

Here ‘outside’ is materialistic in nature, such as money or status, and ‘inside’ is humanitarian in nature, such as welfare of the public or employees.

In the context of the business world, an organizational leader’s motivation is always aligned with the organization’s vision. He uses his strengths, skills and capabilities to accomplish the good of the project he is entrusted with.

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However, a true organizational leader is one who is able to align the organizational goals with that of own as well as of his teams. In such a case, he may be driven by both ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ motivation.

The personal motivation varies from one person to another, whether he is a social, business or spiritual leader. For the greater good of organizations and the world at large, what eventually matters is that leaders are not driven by unhealthy or evil motives.