How Top Leaders Successfully Navigate Change (Part III): Tapping into Emotion


How can leaders respond to the accelerating pace of change in business? Learning means you can take on and use new information, and making sense of it is critical, but what if you simply don’t care to improve? 

Caring is critical to executive potential, if only because executive roles become all-absorbing: CEOs are CEOs all the time. If unmotivated by their role, they can easily burn out just doing their jobs. Motivation points to what you have potential for

Motivation is why people actually do what they do. There are two types: what you consciously think is important (explicit) and what energizes you emotionally (implicit). The former helps make choices -“What do I need to do now?” and the latter propels and focuses people over time - “What do I want to do overall?” 

Top implicit motives (everyone has all three):  

  • Achievement: the primary motive of entrepreneurs, sales people, innovators, and process managers: doing things better 

  • Influence: the primary motive of leaders, coaches, change agents, and managers 

  • Affiliation: the primary motive of humanity in general – wanting to be part of a group and/or get along with others in a personal way 

By exploring one’s own motives objectively; for example, learning what you truly enjoy, or seeing how you spontaneously respond to ambiguous situations; we can separate motives from conscious values - which may or may not align.  

We’ve seen leaders start with a role well-suited to their motives and succeed so well that their role becomes unsatisfying, e.g., from startup CEO to major company leader means moving from an Achievement-based role to an Influence-based role.  

Implicit motives remain stable without significant effort, so it’s important to know the relative balance of your three as you choose a role. Otherwise one may have CEO ability but lack the necessary motivation. Learn your motives, and you can make the best use of motivation and organization: making clear choices based on your head and your heart. 

Take a look at how we have helped people of many motives align themselves for growth.