7 Motivational styles all startup managers need to know

In 1914, Eduard Spranger, a German philosopher and psychologist, published a book in German titled Lebensformen. Later translated to Types of Men: The Psychology and Ethics of Personality.

In this book, he identified six core attitudes, values and motivators present in every single person.

He believed these six values created motivation and drive in an individual.

The values, he wrote, are formed through repeated experiences or exposure to the world. He defined them as world views. World filters, if you will, which shape and define what a person finds valuable, important, good, and desirable.

Then, in 1950 Gordon Allport, an American psychologist, picked up the mantle by Spranger and reshaped Spranger's original six values.

Allport looked at how values come to be, the hierarchy of the values in each individual, and he questioned certain of Spranger's dimensions that were too narrow and focused and not as encompassing for most people.

This gave us the frame which we’re using today:

The seven dimensions or 7 motivational styles.

In this blog you will learn:

  • The importance of the seven dimensions
  • The 7 motivational styles
  • The key differences between each of these styles

Let’s explore what each of these mean and which one is your style as a team leader. 👇

The 7 motivational styles

Understanding motivation helps you reveal preferences and why you do what you do.

What drives your behavior? Why are you making certain decisions? Why does this behavior show up at this particular time? What values and motivations actually create those behaviors?

As a leader, it’s vital for you to understand and to create superior performance for yourself.

But it goes beyond having self-awareness and self-management. It’s also for the social-awareness and social-management of others—your team.

To increase our self-awareness, we need to understand our motivators.

Different from the DISC personality where you fall into one group or another, with the seven dimensions, you have ALL of them. But, they show up differently and in varying amounts, either high or low.

Let's dig into the seven motivators and understand each of them.

By Gordon Allport

1. Aesthetic

This person sees the highest value in form and harmony.

Each experience is judged from the standpoint of grace, symmetry, or fit. They regard life as a procession of events, enjoyed for its own sake.

They don't necessarily need to be a creative artist or a creative individual, however, they find the beauty in life, and they make that their main interest.

In the economic sphere, the aesthetic person sees the process of manufacturing, advertising, and trade as a destruction of beauty because they are creating it into something versus appreciating it for what it is.

The main motivation in this driver is a strong desire and need to achieve equilibrium between the world around us and ourselves within while creating a sustainable work-life balance between the two.

The aesthetic is creative, imaginative, artsy, mystical, expressive. This style may redefine and resist real-world approaches to current challenges.

The aesthetic attitude is, in a sense, opposite to the theoretical because they’re concerned with diversity, while the theoretical is interested in understanding the experience.

⬆️ So, if you score high for this one, you're eccentric and practical.

⬇️ If you're really low, you're very grounded. A real-world-thinker.

2. Altruistic 💜

The highest value for the altruistic person is the love of people.

The altruistic person prizes other people as ends, and is therefore in themselves kind, and sympathetic, and unselfish, and empathetic.

For the altruistic, motivation is an expression of the need or energy to benefit others. At times, it can be at the expense of the self, but it is a want to help. It's a genuine sincerity to help others.

They're likely to find the theoretical and the economic attitudes very cold or inhumane. So in contrast to the power type, the altruistic person regards love as itself the only suitable form of human relationship and its importance.

⬆️ When it's very high, there are tendencies of a pushover, sometimes sacrificial, because an altruistic person will put the needs of others before themselves.

⬇️ If this shows as low, it means self-focused, distrusting or suspicious.

3. Economic 👔

The economic person is characteristically interested in what is useful.

They develop an embrace of the practical affairs of the business world. How do we produce? How do we market? Consumption of goods, elaboration of credit.

They're very interested in very practical terms. They conform well to the prevailing stereotype of a business person.

The economic person wants education to be practical and regards unapplied knowledge, which is sought by the theoretical person, as a waste of time.

The motivation and drive for this one is security through self-interest, economic gain, and to achieve real-world returns on personal and professional ventures.

More than perhaps any other motivator type, the economic attitude frequently comes in conflict with other values. It's one that we'll see has a conflict pattern.

⬆️ At the highest level, they're looking at self-mastered, maximized competition.

⬇️ And in lowest forms, when people push away as far as possible from economic, they're more satisfied with where they are, more apathetic. They don't want to engage in worldly means.

4. Individualist 🧍

This person seeks to be separate and independent.

Their desire is to stand out, to express their uniqueness and be granted freedom over their action to champion their own bearing wherever they are and whoever they are.

Unlike the power attitude, the individualistic person seeks neither power nor control of others or environment in general. They're only very concerned with controlling their own fate and protecting their own freedom, their own sovereignty.

The individualistic actor, the driver, deals with one's needs to be seen as autonomous, unique, independent, to stand apart from the crowd. It's a drive to be socially independent, have the opportunity for freedom and personal expression.

5. Power 💪

This person is interested primarily in power and control, which are not necessarily negative things.

Their activities are not necessarily in the narrow field of politics either. Whatever their vocation, they like to have a sense of control. Leaders in any field usually have high power and control values because you want to be commanding. You want to be able to have influence to say where the direction is going.

Since competition and struggle play a large part in life, many philosophers have seen power as the most universal and most fundamental motives. It is one of the most basic motives of humans. Because of that, certain personalities who desire for direct expression of this motive, they above all else want personal power, influence, and to be renowned, to be famous, to be well known.

It's about being seen as a leader, to have influence and control over one's environment, and success.

⬆️ Competitiveness and control are often associated with a high score in this motivational type. Think dominating, forceful, authoritative approaches.

⬇️ On the low end of power, think of passive and submissive. Yielding. They are the support for the team, letting others do what they need.

6. Regulatory ⚪⚫

The highest value for the regulatory person may be called unity.

The regulatory person is one whose mental attitude is directed towards achieving a sort of structure that is permanent.

Directed to the creation of really satisfying order and constitution, there's an order to life, to the cosmos, to the universe, and then trying to understand that order and recreate that order in their own lives.

In parts, the regulatory can be a bit of a traditionalist who enjoys taking part in uniting themselves with the higher order, to be one with the system, to be one with traditions and culture.

This indicates a need to establish order, routine, and structure.

⬆️ High scores in this motivation promotes more of a black-and-white mindset and a traditional approach to problems and challenges through standards, rules, and protocols.

⬇️ At the opposite end of the regulator, is more defiant and spontaneous.

7. Theoretical 🤔

The dominant interest of the theoretical person is the discovery of truth.

When pursuing goals, they take on a cognitive attitude and look for identities and differences. They look to understand.

Their interests are theoretical, empirical, critical, rational thinking.

They're natural intellectuals. They follow a scientist or philosopher kind of perspective.

Their main goal is to gain knowledge, to order knowledge and to systemize knowledge. They have the desire to uncover, to discover, to recover the truth, because motivation needs to gain knowledge for knowledge's sake—need to know.

Instead of having judgments regarding beauty or the utility of objects, they simply seek to observe it, to reason about these objects, to understand that beauty and where it comes from versus having judgments over whether something is beautiful or not.

⬆️ Rational thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving are important to those high in this motivation. Scholarly, fact-finding.

⬇️ Pulling away from this motivation is disinterested people. Surface-type, more intuitive than fact-finder.

Finding your motivational style

Okay, now that you are aware of these motivational styles, can you map out how they show up in your decisions as a leader? Or in your personal life?

The reality is, people see the world differently.

We all have our biases.

We all have our own desires.

We all express those views and desires through actions. And our actions are determined by our emotions.

Motivators are the why behind the emotions.

Motivators reveal our viewpoint, our mindset, our paradigm of thought, our way of judging and valuing life.

To understand your own attraction to certain activities, why you do what you do, what gets you out of bed in the morning, and what gets you willing to achieve at a higher level, you can do a motivational assessment.


With this assessment, you will learn how you rank for each motivator.

By understanding where your motivators are and what motivates your decision-making, you’ll have a higher self-awareness in your leadership style.

Final Thoughts

You’re probably asking yourself “Fahd, aren’t these nature or nurture?”

That is the big question that science and researchers continue to try and answer.

The majority agrees we as humans are somewhere in the middle, of a mix of nature and nurture.

Similar to our DISC personalities, we have a predisposition to maybe certain traits or tendencies. But as Carol Dweck's research says about growth mindsets and fixed mindsets, our talents and abilities can change, but they must be activated.

We must be in the right mindset to be able to have those changes happen.

The right environmental conditions help us with that growth.

So, for our motivators and our values, it's similar. We have perhaps a predisposition to a value. But based on what we've been exposed to at a very young age, based on what we've been exposed to in our life, our values have been set in certain ways.

Now, they can definitely change. They can grow over the course of our lives, but not rapidly over a weekend unless a big shift happens in our life.

Knowing yourself and knowing your team will help you look at things like role building, goal setting, and achievement.

Now that you know all these…

Think back to a time where you felt torn with a decision. Can you identify which two dimensions were at play?

👉 To know how to implement these motivational styles at your startup and in your leadership, check out Unicorn Labs leadership training.

Related posts


Subscribe for your remote team management free education series.

Five lessons and five tools delivered to your inbox for the next five weeks.
No Thanks