How do I Motivate My Team? Cultivating Motivation Using the 7 Motivation Types

"I like to tell all our customers and all people it's not necessarily about the reward or the incentive, it's about the environment you create." 
- Cassy Aite, Co-Founder and CEO of Hoppier

In the fourth episode of our podcast, Unicorn Leaders, our guest, Cassy Aite (Co-Founder and CEO of Hoppier), explains how managers can motivate their employees by cultivating the right environment and personalizing the motivational experience from person to person. 

Motivation is specific to each person on your team and varies vastly. It’s part of the larger environment instead of just existing as a reward. Rewards contribute to this positive environment but should not be the sole method used to motivate employees.

In this article, we're going to holistically unpack motivators . What pushes you? What pulls you? What makes you make certain decisions? What do you value? 

You don't want to focus on motivation. Instead, shift your focus to engaging employees. As a leader, you must also understand the direct and indirect motivators that give people reasons to work, engage and be productive. 

Digging deep to understand your motivations as a leader helps you in so many ways. You begin to learn why you make certain decisions, and how you go about making those decisions. Once you figure yourself out, the same framework can help you understand your team’s motivators too.

When we understand what motivates each individual, we can contextualize engagement and make it specific to them - helping us quickly reach our ongoing goal of personalized leadership and improving our own emotional intelligence. 

Tool: Motivators Assessment

One tool we can use to determine motivators is a Motivators Assessment. In 1914, German philosopher and psychologist, Eduard Spranger published a book titled Lebensformen, explaining the research and observations behind identifying the six core attitudes, values and motivators in every individual. 

The six values were what he believed created motivation and drive in people. He defined them as the worldviews that shape and define what every person finds valuable, important, good, and desirable. The values are formed through repeated experiences that we have or exposure to the world. 

Spranger said that your experience helps determine your attitude or your beliefs of what is what’s good and what’s not. The more positive encounters you associate with a certain dimension, the more it's been reinforced and holds value for you. 

The opposite is also true. The more negative encounters you've had, the less enforced the dimensions become. Due to their connection with experience and environment, values are considered dynamic.

With enough time or experience, any individual's value hierarchy, their motivators, can actually change. However, it’s very slow to change them outside of a significant emotional event or crisis. For example sometimes marriage, kids, or parents dying can change values and motivators. It's so important that people understand their motivators and drivers since how we approach them is mostly static.

Spranger’s original 6 dimensions of motivators: 

  1. Aesthetic: Sees highest value in form and harmony
  2. Economic: Characteristically interested in what’s useful
  3. Political: Interested primarily in power and control
  4. Social: The highest value for this dimension is love of people
  5. Religious: Their highest value may be unity
  6. Theoretical: Their dominant interest is the discovery of truth

In the 1950s, Gordon Allport, an American psychologist, picked up the research left by Spranger and focused on studying the personality aspects involved in the six dimensions. This gave us the framework we use today. 

Today’s 7 dimensions of motivators:

  1. Aesthetic: Drive for balance, harmony and form
  2. Altruistic: Drive for humanitarian efforts or to help others altruistically
  3. Economic: Drive for economic or practical returns
  4. Individualistic: Drive to stand out as independent and unique
  5. Power: Drive to be in control or have influence
  6. Regulatory: Drive to establish order, routine and structure
  7. Theoretical: Drive for knowledge, learning and understanding

It's important to explore each motivator and what they mean. It's even more critical to remember that they can't be separated - only distinguished. By understanding motivators, you can discover how to maximize performance by achieving stronger alignment between motivators, choices and actions. 

All seven dimensions show up in each of us. This is very different from the DISC assessment as with that you fall into one group or another. Learn more about DISC here and check out our free assessment. With the motivator assessment everyone has all seven, but they show up differently and in varying amounts, based on whether you value them really high or really low. 

Deep Dive Into the 7 Motivation Types

The Motivators Assessment describes who you are based on your values and beliefs. Understanding motivation helps you reveal preferences and why you do what you do. What drives your behavior? Why does this behavior show up? What values and motivations actually create those behaviors? 

It's vital for you to understand, to create a superior performance for yourself as a leader, to increase our self-awareness. We need to understand our motivators. Let's dig into the seven motivators to understand each in-depth to best understand your style and  the style of those around you.

1. Aesthetic

The aesthetic person sees the highest value in form and harmony. They judge every experience from the viewpoint of grace and symmetry or fit. They regard life as a procession of events, and each event is enjoyed for its own sake. They don't necessarily have to be artists or other stereotypically creative individuals. They find the beauty in life and make that their main interest. 

Aesthetic motivation is the opposite of theoretical motivation. An aesthetically motivated individual is concerned with diversity while someone who’s theoretically motivated is concerned with understanding the experience. An aesthetically motivated person chooses to consider accuracy and truth as equivalent importance to beauty or making something beautiful is more important than making it accurate.

An aesthetically motivated person sees the process of manufacturing, advertising, and trade as destruction of beauty because we’re turning beauty into something instead of appreciating it for what it is. The main motivator 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. 

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

Most people fall in the average score range for aesthetic motivation. They're imaginative, sensible, realistic, or divergent. When a motivation score is really low or really high, we can easily see how the motivator affects us. If your score is really high, you're eccentric and practical. If you're really low, you're very grounded and focused on the real world. When we’re at the polar opposite ends of each motivator, our decisions are affected by them the most. 

2. Altruistic

The highest value for an altruistically motivated person is the love of people. In this motivator, the altruistic or the philanthropic aspect of love is most important. An  altruistically motivated person prizes others and is kind, sympathetic, unselfish and empathetic. They usually find people with high theoretical or economic motivators cold or inhumane. 

An altruistically motivated person sees love as the only suitable form of human relationships and puts a lot of value on this. Motivation is an expression of the need to benefit others for them. It could even be at their own expense. At the end of the day, they value helping someone more than their own needs. They carry a genuine sincerity in helping others.

When this motivation score is very high, we find the people who get called a pushover or their actions get called sacrificial. Because an altruistic person will put the needs of others before themselves, the opposite is being self-focused and distrusting or suspicious. The polar opposite ends of the spectrum show us how valuing altruism motivates us and can change our behaviour.

3. Economic

An economically motivated person is interested in what’s practical. This includes self-preservation and utility. You could describe them as being utilitarian. They strongly value the practical parts of the business world. How do we produce? How do we market? How quickly do we consume certain goods? 

They conform well to the stereotype of a business person and often have conflict with people with other motivation types. An economically motivated person wants their education to be practical and sees theoretical knowledge as a waste of time.

Their utilitarian efforts are important. The value of utility conflicts with the aesthetic value, except when art is for business purposes. If they see art for the sake of beauty, they won’t value it the same because it has undetermined benefits for the economy. If it's art in the sense of marketing campaigns or movies and commercials, then an economically motivated person will appreciate it. 

On a personal level, economically motivated people often confuse luxury with beauty. In their relationships with people, they're more likely to be interested in surpassing them in wealth than being more powerful or serving them in the same way they would if they were altruistically motivated.

In most cases, they respect those who are regulatorily motivated, but are more inclined to consider them as a means to the rewards of wealth and prosperity. By understanding economically motivated people you understand their drive for security through self-interest, economic gain and achieving real world returns on personal and professional ventures. 

4. Individualistic

The individualistic person does best when they’re separate and independent. They want to stand out, express their uniqueness and have freedom in their actions. To champion their individuality wherever they are, no matter who they are. 

Unlike those with power as their main motivator, an individualistic person doesn’t seek control of others or their environment. They're only concerned with controlling their own fate and protecting their freedom, and sovereignty. They fight against any control by external forces over what's happening in their life. If they ever feel an influence from external forces, their only focus is to free themselves, protect their freedom and cut away from the group they feel is controlling them.

The driver for an individualistically motivated person is that they need to be seen as autonomous, unique, independent and stand apart from the crowd. Overall they most value being independent, personal expression and having freedom.

5. Power

A power-motivated person is most interested in gaining power and control. This sounds like a bad thing but isn’t necessarily always negative. This motivator also doesn't only apply to people in politics. Whatever their path, someone influenced by this motivator likes to have a sense of control. Leaders in every field have high power and control values because they want to be commanding and need people to listen to them to perform. 

As someone with power as one of your main motivators, you want to influence the direction your work is going in. Since competition and struggle are a large part of everyday life, many philosophers have found power is one of the most universal and basic human motives. This helps explain why some people value personal power, influence and fame above everything else.

They value being seen as a leader and having influence and control over their environment and success, as well as that of others. Competitiveness and control are often associated with a high score in this motivational type. If someone’s on the low end of the power motivator they’re passive, submissive, yielding, and supportive. On the flip side, if they’re closer to the top level, they’re more dominating, forceful, and authoritative.

6. Regulatory

The biggest value for a regulatory motivated person is unity. They're mystical and want to comprehend the cosmos and how it relates to them. They strive to embrace the totality of their role as a part of the universe. 

A regulatory motivated person’s goal is to develop a permanent structure in their life. They want to create some kind of order and constitution in their lives. They also want to comprehend the order to life, the cosmos, and the universe and recreate that order in their own lives. 

Some who score high on this motivator take a lot of interest in life systems and processes, and want to be active participants in them too.. Due to this, a regulatory motivated person can be a traditionalist who enjoys uniting themselves with a higher order, being part of a system, and taking part in traditions and culture.

A regulatory motivated person needs to establish order, routine and structure. Those with high scores in this motivation type have a black and white mindset and approach problems and challenges using standards, rules, and protocols. Those on the opposite end of the regulatory motivated spectrum are more defiant and spontaneous. 

7. Theoretical

The main interest of a theoretically motivated person is the discovery of truth. In pursuing this goal, they usually take an intellectual approach. They look for identities and differences. They want to understand things. Instead of making judgments regarding the beauty or utility of an object, they want to observe it and understand the beauty and where it comes from versus having judgments over whether something is beautiful or not. 

Their primary interests are theoretical, empirical, critical, and rational thinking. They have a very scientific or philosophical way of viewing the world. Their main aim is to gain knowledge. They want to bring order to knowledge and systemize it. They want to uncover, discover, and recover the truth. 

This motivation needs to gain knowledge for knowledge's sake. They need to know why. Rational thinking, reasoning, and problem solving are essential to those high in this motivation type. They're scholarly, and fact-finding. If you don’t resonate with this motivator it means you’re disinterested, and more of an analytic and intuitive person than a fact finder.

How to Use the 7 Motivation Types

When we do motivation assessments and go through the list in depth, trying to understand all our different motivators and those of others, a lot of people ask, “Is this nature or nurture?" This is the big question that science and researchers continually try to answer. The majority agree that a mix of nature and nurture influences our motivator types. 

Similar to our DISC personality, which shows us our behavioural styles, our motivators can change and shift based on our life experiences. We may be predisposed to certain traits or tendencies, but our talents and abilities can change. However, it is conditional. We must be in the right mindset for those changes to happen, and the right environmental conditions can help us grow.

For example, we may have a predisposition to a value, but based on what we've been exposed to at a very young age and throughout our lives, our values become set in certain ways. There’s room for them to grow naturally over a long time frame, but never in a shorter time frame such as a few days, unless a big life event takes place. By understanding our motivators and how they influence our decision-making, we can have a greater understanding of ourselves and those around us. 

One of the key things knowing our motivators can do is improve both intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. When we look at a certain environment, a certain situation, with differing views on it than our peers, our motivators can help us explain why that's the case. Understanding your own attraction to specific activities is equally important to improve self-awareness around why we do what we do. 

Additionally, we can look at how role building, goal setting and achievement and our motivators coincide. When setting goals for yourself or others, it helps to understand why you want those goals achieved in the first place. Providing monetary rewards as motivation for someone with a high altruistic motivation score probably won’t work as well as it would for someone with a high economic motivation score. 

Motivation and Hiring

Just like creating an ideal role, placing a person in the perfect existing role takes a level of awareness. What does the job require? What does it provide? What does that person require? What does that person provide? When you understand all four sides and you understand a person's motivators and drivers, you can fulfill their job and design their role better. 

Research shows that most successful people have a certain level of self-awareness. This shows us how important it is. The reality is that people see the world differently, and we each have our own biases and desires that we express through our actions. 

Our actions and behaviours are often determined by our emotions and how we feel and motivators are what cause these emotions in the first place. Understanding our motivators means we understand our emotions. We get to see why we do what we do and our particular preferences. Motivators reveal our viewpoint, our mindset, our way of thought, and way of judging and valuing life.

Final Thoughts

Motivators help people understand their unique value hierarchy better. Their belief system, interests and where their passions lie. There are many benefits to learning what motivates us. Our motivators filter and guide our decisions based on the results that reflect them. They’re uniquely combined in each person, influencing priorities and decision-making. 

For optimal performance, it’s vital that our motivators are satisfied by what we do. They drive our passions, reduce fatigue and keep us inspired. Understanding our motivators and how they interact with each other, helps us be more effective leaders and better serve our teams.

While exploring what each motivator means individually, it's critical to remember they can't be separated - only distinguished. Therefore, to understand motivators, we must look at how to maximize performance by achieving stronger alignment between our motivators and our choices, interactions and experiences. 

Is what you’re motivated by consistent with your choices and actions? If not, is that gap what's causing you to feel burned out? Is that gap what's causing you to be resentful? Is that gap causing you to feel unnecessary frustration and emotional labour at work? 

It's key to remember that some motivators support one other, bringing more impact and weight to them. Looking at them all together gives us the big picture. To best understand ourselves, we have to look at how they interact with each other and what our unique combination tells us. 

Sometimes we have conflicting motivators, which explains why we may feel internal tension and conflict. It prevents us from reaching a certain level of satisfaction because it can counteract the importance of something else we want. The more awareness you have of your combination and the holistic picture of your motivators, the better.

Listen to episode 4 of the Unicorn Leaders podcast to dive more into guest Cassy Aite’s real-life experiences surrounding motivation in all kinds of teams as the co-founder and CEO of the corporate reward company Hoppier.


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