Using Motivational Maps as a leadership tool?

9 reasons for using Motivational Maps as leadership tool...

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Everywhere in the business, management and even national presses and social media sites we go, we find the constant refrain of a lack of productivity in the UK, and this has been going on since the financial crisis of 2008. It has been exacerbated, of course, by the Covid epidemic which has proved an unexpected game changer, particularly for those organisations that simply cannot get their staff back into their offices. There is much wringing-of-hands and wailings of despair as not much seems to improve as we ‘progress’ to we know not where!

But one thing is very clear to me: that every single level in our society we need to improve the quality of our leadership. Indeed, I think most people would concede that the general level of leadership we see around us is – at best – poor. So many of our leaders seem clueless or simply corrupt: the Post Office scandal, HS2, Nat West and De-Banking, and more and more besides. As Sun Tzu observed long ago, ‘… competitive success … is determined by leadership skill alone’. Our almost complete failure in this area is indicative of the problem.

What, then, can be done to improve the situation? The first thing is to understand what leadership is and I would refer people to my book, co-written with Jane Thomas, Mapping Motivation for Leadership (Routledge, 2019) for an in-depth look. The title of the book, though, gives one thing away: motivation is central to being an effective leader. They are in fact a hand-in-glove combo. Leaders who do not motivate people do not, and cannot, achieve anything like what truly motivational leaders do!

Here are nine reasons for using Motivational Maps in your leadership practice.

Personalized Leadership Approach

First, Motivational Maps provides what might be termed a personalized leadership approach. They provide insights into the unique drivers and needs of each team member, allowing leaders to tailor their leadership approach to individuals rather than employing a one-size-fits-all strategy. In our culture today, this is vital. With staff shortages prevalent, it is no good being ignorant of what the differences between Baby Boomers, generation X, Millenials and generation Alpha entering the work force are. Being really clear on the cultural differences and what the motivational profiles are can only be a major asset to the leader. Actually, understanding what staff really want is a major plus and leap forward in any generation.

Enhanced Employee Engagement

Second, and this follows from point 1: Understanding what motivates employees can lead to higher levels of engagement as leaders can align tasks and responsibilities with individuals' intrinsic motivations, resulting in a more fulfilling work experience. Add to this the Reward Strategy ideas that are inherent in all Motivational Map work, and you have a simple and easy-to-follow recipe for enhanced employee engagement.

Improved Communication

Third, by their very nature Motivational Maps facilitate open and honest conversations between leaders and team members about their motivations, preferences, and goals; this fosters better understanding and communication within the team. I think it was Brian Tracy who maintained that 85% of any organisations’ problems were down to communication issues. Thus, using Motivational Maps – and its objective, non-judgemental, non-stereo-typing language – leads to seriously improved communication.

Increased Productivity

Fourth, increased productivity. By aligning tasks and goals with employees' motivations, leaders can increase productivity as individuals are more likely to be energized and committed to their work, resulting in higher levels of output and efficiency. High levels of performance correlate with high levels of energy (motivation) multiplied by high levels of skill (and knowledge). This is core, and the general movement away from considering performance as the number one issue for an organisation (that is, for the leader to address), and substituting for it instead political ideologies and virtue-signalling, is a pathology that can only undermine the organisation in the long run.

Effective Talent Management

Fifth, Motivational Maps can help leaders identify and nurture talent within their teams by recognizing individuals' unique strengths, motivations, and potential areas for development. This means: effective talent management. In a world in which the Talent Wars are real, and in which there is a shortage of talent, this is a major competitive advantage, because not only does it mean that one retains the best but also …

Reduced Staff Turnover

Sixth, it leads to reduced staff turnover. A better understanding of employees' motivations allows leaders to create a work environment that meets their needs and fosters a sense of belonging, reducing turnover rates and retaining top talent within the organization. Of course, this reduces costs and so can contribute to profitability.

Enhanced Team Dynamics

Seventh, by assembling teams based on complementary motivational profiles, leaders can promote collaboration, creativity, and synergy among team members, leading to improved team dynamics and performance (again, this word!). These enhanced team dynamics unlock not just synergy but unforeseen potentialities. It truly promotes diversity: of motivations and so of thinking – and so of possibilities.

Proactive Conflict Resolution

Eighth, Motivational Maps enable leaders to anticipate and address potential conflicts arising from differences in motivations, preferences, and work styles, leading to more effective conflict resolution and reduced tension within the team. The objective language of Motivational Maps enables time and again the a-ha moments that come when people realise that other members are not the enemy, but just different in their motivational drives; this can be so helpful and so healing. Motivational Maps, then, promote proactive conflict resolution.

Strategic Decision-Making

Finally, and ninth, leaders can use insights from Motivational Maps to make more informed decisions about resource allocation, task assignment, and organizational strategy, ensuring that initiatives are aligned with employees' motivations and the overall goals of the organization. Effectively, contribute to strategic decision-making. This is particularly true when the Organisational Motivational Map is deployed; it has a suite of tools that enable leaders to be able to pinpoint where discrepancies occur between the leaders’ motivations and organisational values, and the employees’ view of, and feelings about, things.

Ultimately, incorporating Motivational Maps into leadership practices can lead to a more engaged, productive, and cohesive teams, driving better business outcomes and greater organizational success. Why not find a practitioner and experience this for yourself?


The Roots of Top Performance

Tree arch

Practical activities from the Mapping Motivation books.

Welcome back for the final instalment of this series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. Over the course of this series, we have explored the Roots of Motivation, Coaching, Teamwork, Leadership, and Engagement. In this final article, we shall explore the Roots of Top Performance, which is of course interrelated with all of the previous topics, but in particular Motivation and Teamwork.

In Mapping Motivation For Top Performing Teams, we return to the idea of how a true team is distinct from a mere group (for more information on this, please read the article The Roots of Teamwork) but also take it one step further.

The basic concept is that teams have four distinctive factors that distinguish them from groups:

  • teams have REMIT
  • they practice INTERDEPENDENCY
  • they have a strong BELIEF about the power and importance of teams
  • and they are ACCOUNTABLE

These four pillars create the foundation for truly great team performance. However, they are not the whole story, because whilst we may build our house with these four pillars, we then have to live in it! Many teams (like any venture) start strong, but soon waver. It is easy to perform well at the start of a venture when the energy is high. But what do we do when performance begins to decline? Organisational leaders need a strategy. Let’s turn to the practical exercise.

This activity comes from Chapter 1, Activity 1.8, page 22 of Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams.

“I discussed earlier about addressing issues and we now come to that point. What would you recommend as activities that this team/company might do to strengthen its teamwork… and to become more successful?”

As we have mentioned in previous articles, it helps to write the answers down physically, rather than just thinking about them. This engages a different part of the brain and helps concretises the link between ideation and action. And taking action is what this series is all about!

Before we reveal our answer to this question, it is worth bearing in mind a few points. These may or may not guide your own responses.

In our article on The Roots of Engagement we shared the not-so-secret formula for Performance, which is:

Performance = (Skills + Motivation) x Commitment

Where Commitment = The Value of a Goal + Likelihood of Success.

Chapter 1 fig 6 Performance Formula Number 2 (2018_05_02 14_50_02 UTC)

from Mapping Motivation for Engagement

Already, this gives us a lot to think about when it comes to measuring and predicting performance in our employees. At a basic level, all the skills in the world are worthless if the employee has no motivation, aka, no energy. Similarly, if the employee is highly motivated and energetic, but has no commitment to what they are doing, then this will result in a deteriorating performance over the long haul!

Measuring Commitment is complex, but two key indicators are derived from the Value of a Goal (to that individual person, bear in mind) plus the Likelihood of Success (consider that if you give your employee a goal that is absolutely impossible, then their Commitment to said goal is likely to waver dramatically). So, if Commitment is 0, then even having both Skills and Motivation will not help achieve high performance in – an important qualification – the long run! The issue in this case is neither energy nor competence but the how that energy is deployed. If Skills and Motivation constitute the engineering and fuel of a car (respectively), then Commitment reflects its quality, its sustainability, its resistance to break-downs.

Let’s look at a basic example: If I am a skilled and highly motivated programmer, but you ask me to do a week’s worth of administrative data-entry in a single day, then you can expect very poor performance despite the fact I have lots of skills and high energy levels. This is because:

  • I am highly unlikely to value the goal (it’s not relevant to my interests or skills)
  • and, the likelihood of me succeeding given the amount of work is next to zero

Of course, this is what some organisations do all the time: we erode high performing individuals’ skill and energy levels by undermining their commitment – via valueless work (as perceived by them) and unachievable targets (usually through absurd and restricted time frames)! We have perhaps laboured the point, but it is worth exploring the nuances of this model as fully as possible in this brief space because of what it reveals about the way businesses are run. You can likely already see how so many organisations completely miss one element or other when it comes to considering their employees’ performance.

So, how might a strategy designed to improve performance in a team (or indeed an individual) in decline relate to the equation of Performance? The answer is startlingly simple, and yet, it is often the simple and obvious things we miss. Rewards.

Since our earliest childhoods, most of us were conditioned to perform via rewards. When we take our first steps, our parents clap and praise us. When we do well in school, we are given a gold star. When we behave well, we get treats from family. There may be some people reading this who reject this methodology on principle, and they are welcome to challenge the status quo (indeed, the status quo needs to be regularly challenged and questioned for society to remain healthy). However, this does not change the fact that the majority of us, bar some tragic or specific exceptions, were raised with this simple formula: perform well and get rewards.

Therefore, any business or organisation looking to get the best out of its people must formulate a reward strategy. But what we find is that even the organisations that do use reward strategies fail spectacularly in implementing them. We even see many instances where the rewards actually begin to demotivate the staff, having the reverse of the desired effect. Why is this? Well, one reason is that generally organisations take a “one size fits all approach”. The majority of organisations offer rewards that align only with one of the nine motivators of human behaviour, aka The Builder, which is focused on material gain and tangible rewards. In other words, they offer financial bonuses.

But our studies show that only about one in seven people have Builder in their top three motivators. One might argue that extra money never hurt anyone, but we beg to differ. For a start, these financial rewards usually are not rewards in the true sense, because they come with a whole load of strings attached: expectations of additional responsibilities or hours to work. This can mean many employees actively seek to avoid being noticed, cultivating mediocrity so they don’t stand out from the crowd! We need not explain the deleterious effect this has on productivity!

Secondly, we find that when financial bonuses are administered without sensitivity and care, they can often breed resentment and conflict. For example, if everyone in the organisation receives a bonus based on organisational performance, it can seem unfair to those exceptional individuals who really do go the extra mile. Should Sally in HR really get that extra money when she slacked off two days a week? Conversely, if only the stars get huge, grandiose bonuses, it can lead people to question by what metric performance is assessed and bonuses deemed appropriate.

A friend of mine once told me a harrowing story that illustrates this latter point. He (we shall call him Damon) and a colleague (we shall call him Billy) essentially possessed the same level of responsibility as financial directors in an insurance organisation; they had parity in all but a single word in their job title, which indicated Billy was senior. By the end of the financial year, Billy had taken a whopping twenty weeks of the year off in order to resolve various issues with his house, spend time with his kids, and also through recurring illness. Damon resented none of this—he had no children himself and thought it was great to see a dad spending so much time with his kids despite a demanding corporate job. Damon was happy to take up the majority of the slack at work as he loved his job. Though at times it was gruelling and difficult doing two people’s work, Damon not only kept the company going but also proactively started several cost-saving initiatives, such as improving the organisation’s customer experience (specifically around their online checkout experience), with the end result of saving the company in excess of 1.5 million pounds. Damon arrived at the end of the year exhausted but feeling positive about having made a massive contribution to the organisation and shown himself to be an exceptional employee.

Then came the bonuses. Damon discovered—he had no choice or agency in the matter—what bonus Billy had been paid versus himself. Damon told me quietly, “If I had received half of what Billy got, I would now be a millionaire. I worked myself half to death this year.” The company had completed disregarded his contribution and minimized him for the sake of appeasing Billy, who had worked at the company longer than Damon, and was technically senior. It is also perhaps relevant that Damon suspected the powers that be at the organisation believed he would be satisfied with a smaller amount because of his age, that he was not yet mature enough to roll in the “big leagues”. Needless to say, Damon tendered his resignation shortly afterwards, and the company lost one of its most competent and hardest working members of staff.

This is obviously an extreme example, but it serves to show just how badly organisations can get rewards wrong. So, how do we get it right? It goes without saying we need to find out what is really driving our people, what motivates them, and then customise our rewards in line with those motivations. In Damon’s case, he actually was a Builder motivator, which makes the shortcomings of his “reward” for a year of monumental work all the more staggering.

In Mapping Motivation For Top Performing Teams we include, in the Resources at the back of the book, a comprehensive list of Reward Strategies for all nine motivators. This is too exhaustive to reprint here, so instead we shall simply give you a sample of five Reward Strategies that apply to the Spirit motivator, the motivator driven by the need for autonomy, independence, and freedom.

Chapter 1 figure 8 Team Map Reward Strategies for Spirit as top motivator (2019_11_16 13_25_17 UTC)from Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams

As you can see, these rewards are geared around the employee’s specific needs—which is the true secret to unlocking top performance!

For more information on this topic, consult Chapter 1 of Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams as well as the Resources on page 165.

Visit the Mapping Motivation Books website for more information about Mapping Motivation For Top Performing Teams and the other books in the series.

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners

The Roots of Coaching

Hands holding plant

Practical activities from Mapping Motivation

Welcome back for the fourth instalment of a new series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. You can find the first article, which explores Roots of Motivation,  here. In the previous article, we discussed the Roots of Engagement. Today, we’re shifting the focus back to the individual and examining how Coaching is interrelated with Motivation. Unlike the previous three articles, rather than beginning with an exercise, we’ll instead lay down the foundations of context and then guide you towards a powerful practical exercise at the end that might just help you discover your inner coach.

As stated in the introduction to Mapping Motivation for Coaching, “[coaching] now has become a mainstay process for developing people in business and in their personal lives. Indeed, coaching and coaches have become ubiquitous.” However, despite the significant growth of coaching in the last 25 years, the idea of a coach is nothing new, and has ancient origins in the concept of a “mentor” or “tutor”.

The word “mentor” is derived from Homer’s Odyssey: Mentor is the wise friend of Odysseus who acts as a guide and teacher to Odysseus’s son, Telemachos, though in actuality Mentor is the goddess Pallas Athene in disguise. Many of the Greek mythological heroes possessed a guide or teacher of some kind, often with divine or magical lineage, whose role was to educate them not only in the ways of war but also wisdom and courtesy. This role of the mentor, however, was not merely the province of myth. In ancient Rome, tutors (the Latin word meaning “a watcher, protector, guardian”) were so highly esteemed, despite often being slaves, that noble families left their children’s care and education entirely in the tutor’s hands. The modern coach, of course, is rarely responsible for children, but the principle of acting as a dedicated “guide” to an individual remains. The roots of coaching, therefore, run very deep, and carry with them great responsibility for shaping a person and facilitating them to reach their highest potential.

But how do coaches achieve this? And why is a coach different from, for example, a teacher or a therapist? In our view, coaching describes a very specific dynamic (we have adapted our definition from Professor Nigel MacLennon’s powerful one):

Coaching is a planned intervention(s) by one person (the coach) for another (the client) in which the central purpose is either to motivate, enable, and improve the performance of the client in a specific area or for a particular task, or similarly to motivate, enable, and improve their capacity for sustained and progressive personal development.” —Mapping Motivation for Coaching, “Coaching Questions”, p12.

The key word, here, as you have probably guessed, is motivate. That is the difference between a coach and these similar but distinct roles. Indeed, though the ancients did not possess the word “motivate”—it’s a relatively new construction—Gregory Nagy observed, “a mentor is someone who instills a heroic mentality in somebody.”What could more accurately describe the effect of high motivation than that? We see this “heroic mentality” reflected in the modern day in those who are extremely highly motivated. All things become possible to those who are fired up and fully energised, and their physical and mental resources seem limitless to the point they appear like demigods or heroes to those without the same level of motivation.

Of course, we discussed how Leaders also have a responsibility to motivate their Teams in articles. However, the role of a Coach is different in that their attention is focused on the development of a particular individual. Thus, whereas the Leader looks to guiding the flock, the Coach acts as a personal guardian angel, divine emissary, and wise counsellor to a single person. There is overlap between these two skillsets, but they are not the same.

The Leader required four (plus one!) skills to be effective. Teams required four traits to distinguish them from an ordinary “group”. The coach, however, operates on a different basis, instead positioning themselves upon a cruciform pair of continuums that encompass the four major dimensions of the coach. Note, we still have the magic number four! However, we arrive this number via an entirely different route.

The continuums are support versus challenge.

New chaper 1 fig 1 support v challenge (2017_05_31 10_05_10 UTC)Support v Challenge from Mapping Motivation for Coaching

And empathy versus objectivity.

New chaper 1 fig 2 empathy v objectivity (2017_08_02 10_18_52 UTC)Empathy v Objectivity from Mapping Motivation for Coaching

New chaper 1 fig 3 4 dimensions of coaching (2017_05_31 10_05_10 UTC)

The 4 Dimensions of Coaching from Mapping Motivation for Coaching

If you overlay these in the cruciform, then you get the four dimensions of coaching.

These four dimensions: support, challenge, empathy, and objectivity create four roles: The Motivator, The Goal-Setter, The Friend, and The Observer. There is insufficient space here to unpack each of these roles in great detail, but no doubt you can already take a guess how they apply to coaching. A coach must, after all, motivate, as we have already discussed. They must help their clients set and reach goals. They must offer comfort and support. And they must remain an objective observer who can, at times, bring their client back to reality, and cut through the subjective fog.

But now, at last, we come to the practical exercise—and maybe a moment of self-discovery!

This activity comes from Chapter 1, Activity 1.3, page 14.

Give yourself a score out of 10 in each of the four dimensions. A score of 1 means that you barely have that element whereas 10 indicates that you have a superabundance of it. Do this quickly and without too much premeditation. Once you have done it, look at your scores. Which of the four roles do you think is your particular strength – Motivator, Goal-Setter, Friend, or Observer? Which is your weakest link? How does this process of reflection help inform the development of your coaching in the future and with which friends/colleagues/clients?

Hopefully, you have found this article and exercise useful. For more information, consult Chapter 1 of Mapping Motivation for Coaching by James Sale and Bevis Moynan.

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.


The Roots of Engagement

Engagement trees

Practical activities from Mapping Motivation for Engagement (James Sale and Steve Jones, Routledge, 2019) 

Welcome back to the next instalment of a series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. You can find the first article, which explores Roots of Motivation, here. In previous articles, we discussed the Roots of Teamwork and Leadership.

Today, we’re taking the ideas explored in previous articles onto a broader canvas and discussing the critically important—but still relatively new—concept of Engagement.

As observed in the Preface of Mapping Motivation for Engagement, “Whereas it has always been obvious that leadership is of critical importance in the success of any organisation, or endeavour for that matter, engagement and its significance has been a relatively recent phenomenon…” (Mapping Motivation for Engagement, p. xii). It is easy to see why. Engagement is essentially an employee-centric idea. It is a “bottom-up” approach rather than “top-down”. This runs antithetical to traditional notions of how to run a business.

It is easy to forget in the Twenty-First Century in the West, where we take our rights and democracy for granted, that throughout the majority of human history all leadership and governance has been predicated on “command-and-control” principles: I am the King, I am in charge, and you must do what I say and when. There are many parts of the world where this is still the case. What’s more, the very civilised model for western democracy, aka ancient Greece, was only able to support its people’s freedoms via slavery. So, only a partial democracy, if truth be told. Business has naturally followed the suit of politics in its organisational models; therefore, most businesses deploy command-and-control, hierarchical management styles.

And yet, there is a growing body of evidence that shows just how costly and ineffective this old-fashioned methodology is. Indeed, to pick two simple statistics that tell a grand story: the cost of employee disengagement to the UK economy in 2008 was between £59.4—64.7 billion per annum! A sobering figure if ever there was one! But now, according to Perkbox, the figure is “a staggering £340 billion a year. This is an accumulation of productivity, recruitment spend and much more.” The figure is staggering AND the situation is not getting any better. As Perkbox add, “Poor engagement can impact employee productivity, cause you to lose your best talent, and stop you from attracting new candidates.”

So, engagement is not a mere buzz-word, though it may seem that way, but is a relatively radical concept when taken seriously and not as a tick-box exercise, and clearly vital to the very survival of most modern organisations! As we shall see, there are massive benefits and rewards for those prepared to engage their employees (and, as we have already seen: titanic losses for those who do not).

But how does engagement work? The MacLeod Report sheds some light on this bidirectional and symbiotic concept: “We believe it is most helpful to see employee engagement as a workplace approach designed to ensure employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.”  (MacLeod, 2009)

There are many important ideas to unpack from this—too many for the space of a single article! However, I want to zoom in on one in particular, and it will come as no surprise to those who have been following this series: MacLeod highlights the importance of motivation. Employees, when engaged, are motivated to contribute to organisational success. This is a more revolutionary concept than it may appear on the surface. This is essentially an act of transcendence (if I may be grand!), for the employee puts the organisational success on par with their own needs, desires, and wants. MacLeod says that engaged employees “are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being”, but what this truly means is that organisational success becomes a means by which well-being might be achieved. Now that is another staggering concept!

The way that this process works is, of course, complex and necessarily ambiguous (as all things concerning human emotion and beliefs must be), but one can grasp the essence of it via this relatively simple formula:

Chapter 1 fig 6 Performance Formula Number 2 (2018_05_02 14_50_02 UTC)

Figure 1.6 – from Chapter 1

We will break this down in detail, but first, it’s important to mention this equation is a development of a simple model for understanding performance which is given in Mapping Motivation (Routledge 2016, page 87). This (abridged) model is: Performance = Skills x Motivation. Employee performance is really what we’re talking about when we discuss “organisational success”. High-performing employees will deliver results, and results—even in domains that are not traditionally associated with revenue—will always positively impact the bottom line. Highly motivated administrators, for example, will save everyone time, which will reduce costs. Highly motivated HR professionals will be better at recruitment and retention, which means less overheads to acquire talent. The list goes on. So, performance is what we desire, and the simplest way to understand this is our motivation multiplied by our skillset. If you have no motivation, then even the best skills in the world will achieve nothing (think of a sports car with no fuel in the tank)! Likewise, all the motivation in the world will not help the employee who knows absolutely nothing about what they need to do (think of a sports car with plenty of fuel but no steering wheel)!

However, the “P = S x M” model is incomplete when it comes to engagement, which is where the more advanced model detailed in Figure 1.6 comes in. This equation factors in that other critical word identified in the MacLeod report: “commitment”. Commitment is the mediator between the organisation’s goals and values and the employee. Without commitment, the employee may be high performing in the general sense, but only when pursuing activities aligned with their own values and goals, not those of the organisation. Commitment is what creates synergy (we dislike this word, but sometimes it has to be used) between the employee and the organisation, and we formulate this commitment as being the sum of the Value of a Goal plus the Likelihood of Success in achieving.

Now it’s time for our practical exercise to understand this in pragmatic terms.

This activity comes from Mapping Motivation for Engagement, Chapter 1, Activity 1.5, page 22.

Let’s re-consider this data… Skills and motivation are now to be scored out of 5:

         My current skill (S) level out of 5 is:

         My current motivation (M) level out of 5 is:

         Add these two numbers together (S + M) = a score out of 10.

Consider now the biggest or most important or consequential work-related goal that you are trying to achieve? Write it down.      

         My biggest work goal is:

Score yourself out of 5 of how valuable that goal is to you. Then do the same for how likely it is that you perceive you can achieve that goal.

         The value of this goal (V) to me out of 5 is:

         The likelihood (L) of my achieving this goal out of 5 is: 

Add these two numbers together (V + L) = a score out of 10.

Finally, to get your probability of performance success multiply your two numbers (S + M) x (V + L), to get your % score.

As stated in Mapping Motivation for Engagement: “Having done this, you will be in a much better position to begin to understand that this means for any employees you are managing. These variables are critical for you to understand and utilise if you are going to overcome barriers and get employee engagement.” (p.23).

Hopefully, you have found this article and exercise useful. Please let me know what you have discovered in using this, either on yourself alone or in considering others within a team. For more information, read Chapter 1 of Mapping Motivation for Engagement.

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.

Roots of Teamwork

Papercut people

Practical activities from Mapping Motivation

Welcome back for the third instalment of a new series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. You can find the first article, which explores Roots of Motivation,  here. In the previous article, we discussed the Roots of Leadership. Today, we’re looking at teamwork. Of course, Motivation, Leadership, and Teamwork are all interconnected (or to continue the metaphor, we might say their roots are intertwined). In many respects, Motivation is the mediator between Teams and Leaders, for Leaders need to motivate their Teams, but likewise motivated Teams can buoy up their Leaders.

But before we can examine this interconnected triangle or trinity, we have to know what a team is! And the answer is not so simple as one might think. At Motivational Maps, we draw a distinction between a mere “group”—a bunch of people trying to do something—and a fully committed and effective team. Let’s take a look at a practical exercise from Mapping Motivation to get a sense of what the distinguishing factors might be between groups and teams.

This activity comes from Chapter 6, Activity 2, page 103.

“If a ‘group’ of people in a department, say, are effectively just a random collection of people who happen to have been put together ostensibly to work on some project or objective, what do you think might be the defining characteristics of a real team? List the core characteristics in your opinion. What do you notice about how real teams work?”

As mentioned in previous entries in this article series: it’s important to physically write down your answers, as it engages a different part of the brain.

Now, those of you who have read the Roots of Leadership article and participated in the activity will know that there were four (plus one!) important skills that a leader needed to possess to be successful and efficacious. Four was a significant number because it connects to the four principle domains of business: Finance, Marketing & Sales, Operations, and People (more information about this can be found on pages 19-20 of Mapping Motivation). It will therefore come as no surprise to you that there are four factors that distinguish teams from groups and that point toward the likely success of a team in any endeavour they undertake.

In considering your answer to the question of what these four factors might be, then, it’s important to contemplate how these factors or traits (we might also use the term “qualities”) intersect with the four domains. As always, the name of the game is balance here. For example, viewing the situation through the lens of the People domain may prompt you to say, “Teams need to be socially cohesive”. It brings to mind images of team away-days (paintballing and quad biking anyone?) or drinks after work. But as wonderful as these can be, a team that is only about the social cohesion and bonding is not likely to get much work done. Sociability can prove deleterious to productivity, not just because people feel more inclined to chat around the water cooler, but also because friendship can fuzzy the hierarchical structures upon which most businesses still lay their foundations. If your manager is your best mate, are they likely to insist you deliver a project on time?

Similarly, a team that is mandated only by the bottom-line results (which we might consider to be aligned with the Finance domain of business) is unlikely to be a place where cooperation thrives; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, to quote a famous writer. Some may think invoking Stephen King’s The Shining is a little bit extreme—but Jack will go crazy and become alienated if his life’s meaning is defined only by material results. Just as too much sociability can create problems of complacency, too little can create friction which is ironically even more deleterious to productivity. Will Jack do what his manager tells him to do as quickly and efficiently as possible if Jack’s manager is always on his back about numbers, numbers, numbers and never stops to consider Jack as a rounded human being with loves, hopes, desires, and physical limits? I highly doubt it. How then to strike this fine balance between a productive and effective “workforce”, to use an old-fashioned term, and a socially cohesive and cooperative “team”?

Many would argue that no discussion of teams and teamwork is complete without also discussing leadership, and they are right in many respects, for teams require leaders. Though the topic is far too rich and detailed to discuss here (indeed, I have not one but two books dedicated to this very topic: Mapping Motivation for Leadership and Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams), we can say with certainty that the nature of a team’s leadership is another factor that distinguishes it from a simple “group”. But this raises more important questions. To what extent should a leader be integrated with their team or stand apart from it? To what extent should a team report to their leader? To what extent should a leader define the objectives of the team?

Now we have set your mind a-whirr with questions, it might be best we look at our answer to the question of what characteristics constitute and define a great team. You’ll be pleased to know this time round we have not cheated: there are four components.

(note - images from Chapter 1 of Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams)

So, these are the four traits of a real team: a clear Remit, Interdependency on one another, a Belief in the efficacy of teams, and Accountability. Each one of these is worthy of a chapter in itself. However, as you can see from our next simple diagram, each of these factors transforms a potential obstacle into a positive and progressive outcome.

To pick one example, Interdependency solves the dichotomy of “too much” or “too little” sociability. Instead of trying to build social ties outside of work and hoping they translate into effective collaboration in the workplace, you build them within the framework of the work itself and the desired objective, creating a team of people who need each other’s skills to achieve their end goal. Interdependency fosters collaboration and respect for one another’s skillsets, especially if those roles and skillsets are clearly defined at the outset. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t also throw your employees a barbeque once in a while, of course, but as you can see building collaboration into the very fabric of the team’s identity is a far more powerful way of achieving this cohesion than simply plying people with drinks or experiences that may be totally unrelated to their everyday experience of working together.

A lot more can be said about each of these factors, but we have run out of space. As a final thought, you may want to consider how these four factors intersect with the four domains of business, and how they underpin one another!

For more information, consult chapter 6 of Mapping Motivation.

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.

Roots of Leadership

Trees into the sky

Practical activities from Mapping Motivation…

Welcome back for the second instalment of a new series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. If you missed the last article, which explores the Roots of Motivation, you can find it here. Today, we’ll be discussing leadership!

In times of rapid change and political uncertainty, the question of leadership becomes more pertinent than ever. However, it seems like no one can fully agree on what constitutes great leadership. Is it charisma? Determination? Creativity? Adaptability? Or is leadership entirely contextual—different horses suiting different courses?

Of course, narrowing down leadership to one skill or trait is possibly too limiting, and leaders often have multiple traits and skills that make them efficacious and inspiring.

In order to get a clearer picture of leadership, then, let’s do a practical exercise! After all, that’s what this series is all about: getting pragmatic about change and growth.

This exercise is very simple and comes from Chapter 8, Activity 3, page 145 of Mapping Motivation.

“What do you think are the four most important skills that a leader should have in discharging their duties?”

Please write them down. Remember, the act of writing something on paper uses a completely different part of the brain than merely thinking, and thus engages you with what has been written far more than simply tossing around ideas in your head.

Now, before we go on to looking at the answer, let’s consider the number of skills we’ve asked you to note down. Four is not an arbitrary or random number. The reason we have selected the number four is because it connects with the principle domains of business: Finance, Marketing & Sales, Operations, and People (more information about this can be found on pages 19-20 of Mapping Motivation).

What is interesting to consider is: where do the skills you have written down fit in with these broad categories? Do all of your skills / traits fall into one basket, or have you managed to spread them across three or more domains? For example, if you wrote down that leaders need to have skills in organisation, efficiency, process, and possess a practical knowledge of the product, then you might consider that all of these pretty much fall into the camp of Operations. Whilst Operations skills are valuable, they do not tell the whole story. Having more efficient processes will save the company money, but it will not generate new sources of income. Being organised will help the business run more smoothly, but that will not necessarily resolve conflict between departments or individual employees. So, as you can see, an ideal leader would possess a spread of skills that covered the four bases of the principle domains of business.

Secondly, we might consider the important adage that leaders need to be able to work “on” the business and “in” the business simultaneously. Working “on” the business is characterised by a focus on vision and strategy—aka, where is the business going?—and being able to implement that vision with the necessary processes, systems, and structures. Working “in” in the business, by contrast, is about the people: recruiting and sustaining winning teams, and ensuring everyone in the organisation is motivated.

Though I am well aware that military analogies are in reality unhelpful and misleading when it comes to business (yet still so many gurus use them left, right, and centre) I will risk being called a hypocrite to use one here!

If you were a general in charge of building an army, and commanding that army in battle, you might consider working “on” the business (or in this case the army) as strategic planning (where are we going, what obstacles will we encounter, how can we overcome them) combined with the implementation of hierarchical structures and fighting methodologies that might help you deliver that strategy. For example: we are marching West and are going to fight the Amazonians, who are exceptionally good archers. Every soldier must therefore be equipped with a shield, and in battle, they must use the phalanx “turtle” formation, each soldier covering the soldier to their left, forming an interlocking shield wall to defend against ranged attack.

But, as we all know, and as Tolstoy so profoundly observed in War & Peace, strategy, tactics, and technology alone are not enough for an army (or business) to triumph. Here is an extract from War & Peace, Book 10, Chapter 35, in which the humble Russian General, Kutuzov, is preparing for the battle that will route Napoleon from Russian soil:

 “He listened to the reports that were brought him and gave directions when his subordinates demanded that of him; but when listening to the reports it seemed as if he were not interested in the import of the words spoken, but rather in something else - in the expression of face and tone of voice of those who were reporting. By long years of military experience he knew, and with the wisdom of age understood, that it is impossible for one man to direct hundreds of thousands of others struggling with death, and he knew that the result of a battle is decided not by the orders of a commander in chief, nor the place where the troops are stationed, nor by the number of cannon or of slaughtered men, but by that intangible force called the spirit of the army, and he watched this force and guided it in as far as that was in his power.”

It is this “intangible” force that Motivational Maps hopes to make tangible, or rather visible. And this is where we enter the realm of working “in” the business, aka, being among the troops, feeling the spirit of the army, and “watch[ing] this force and guid[ing] it as far as that was in [our] power.”

So, what is our answer to the question of the four most important skills?

Chapter 8, Figure 8.5: 4+1 leadership model (p. 148).

Figure - Motivational Maps 4 plus 1 Model of Leadership (2015_04_13 13_00_23 UTC)

As you may have noticed, we’ve cheated slightly, in that there are actually five things! But the fifth is not like the others, and to use an old saying: four apples and an orange does not make five apples. The fifth skill, which is Self: self-awareness, self-insight, and self-development, interpenetrates and augments all the others.

We do not have room in this blog to unpack what all of these core skills mean in great detail here, but hopefully this article has given you some clues already. For more information, consult chapter 8 of Mapping Motivation. You can actually pick up Mapping Motivation at a 20% discount here.

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.

Roots of Motivation

Practical activities from Mapping Motivation...

As many wise men and women have observed: “You are what you think.” However, this is only true when that thinking is not merely rumination, but intentional thought that in turn leads to action, to changing behaviours and habits, and eventually to a profound alteration in consciousness. As trainers, coaches, and consultants (trainers+ for short!), or indeed as business leaders and employers, we can often encounter situations where our clients or colleagues are locked in a negative loop (or indeed, we might find ourselves in such a loop). We know we need to change, but we can’t quite figure out how to break the cycle. This is where practical exercises come in. By moving from the mind to the body (and note, this doesn’t necessarily mean exercise or anything strenuous, it could be as simple as writing something by hand) we engage different parts of the brain and move away from cyclic rumination into action—which in turn creates the change we want to see.

In the light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to share some practical activities with you that might help you, your clients, or your employees catalyst the change they are looking for. I’ll be sharing a number of activities over a series of articles, and they’ll cover a wide range of topics, with the central beam uniting all of them being, of course, motivation!

To put the ‘activities’ in context: they are all drawn from my book, Mapping Motivation, which is the first volume in the Mapping Motivation series. The book contains some 75 Activity boxes, so I’ll be handpicking a few! These activities range in scope from the simple to the complex, but of course the reader always has the choice of those they might want to use. And here’s the point: I started off some 27 years ago as a trainer+ and it was a steep learning curve to get up to speed so that I could compete with other trainers+ in the market place. What I loved was going on courses where I not only received information, but also picked up handy, practical tools that I could use with clients and clients I wanted to acquire in the various ‘pitches’ that one made.

Indeed, it could be said that the practical toolkit was what made all the difference to the success of my business. I ‘d sometimes go to business network meetings and listen to a trainer+ give bullet-point after bullet-point of information, PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide of information – yes, much of it true and accurate – but the audience, along with me, falling asleep. There is only so much information we can find interesting and even retain after a while; but once we engage in some relevant activity, things change!

Therefore, in the next few articles, I’d like to share with you some of my favourite activities from Mapping Motivation. Perhaps these ideas could enter your toolkit? Or maybe, as a manager or leader, you could use them in your workplace? If you find they work, perhaps you might want to consider looking at the whole book to mine it for more ideas:

Now, onto the activity! This one comes from Chapter 2: The Roots of Motivation, Activity 2, on page 26 of the book.  It is simple, yet profound:

Picture 1a

Motivation is generally considered some sort of nebulous quality that we all want, all know what it is, but we never go further than this. Imagine now you are a trainer+: making a presentation at a network meeting, running a training session for staff, coaching a manager/ HR professional on their views on motivation. Get them to write down their ideas or opinions; in other words, make it physical, make them commit to something. And after they have, examine their ideas in turn: how accurate are they? How close to the real answers to the question?

The correct answers are to be found in the Figure 2.1 in chapter 2:

Picture 1
Personality, Self-Concept and Expectations are the three sources of motivation. This may well produce a “wow” moment. Now begin to unpack this illustration for them – and point out what it means. One very important thing it means is that about 70% of motivation is down to factors that we can influence and sometimes even control. How is that?...

You can find out more about 'The Roots of Motivation' and further activities in Mapping Motivation by James Sale published by Routledge. (There is currently a mid-year sale with 20% off all titles)

And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.



Understanding the Three Motivational Levels


Most psychometric, personality, survey or self-perception inventory tests have a fatal flaw that is almost impossible to erase, and that is the problem of honesty. An employee who is afraid of being made redundant is unlikely, for example, to answer a question that measures their abilities as a “team player” honestly if they think that the truthful answer will lead to them being gotten rid of. Most questions used in psychometric tests are woefully obvious, rather like the tests that you see when applying for a travel-visa: “Do you have any affiliation with terrorist groups?” Has anyone in the history of the world ever answered that question with a “yes”? If you were, you would never be honest about that fact.

Naturally, this is an extreme example, but we see time and again that employees are very easily able to work out what’s really being asked of them beneath the corporate language of a psychometric or personality test, and therefore neatly customise their answers to provide the picture that they think their employer wants to see, rather than what really is.

Motivational Maps, on the other hand, neatly circumnavigates this problem, because rather than asking employees to “grade” themselves, as for example on the Likert or some other scale, it instead asks them to express preference between two equally valid options. In other words, there is no moral judgement being made upon the employee, simply one of preference and want.

However, solving this problem does create another one, and even the Motivational Maps can sometimes – though rarely - give a “false” result.

In other words, a result that does not really represent what the motivators of the person really are, or perhaps more exactly, it may represent them, but the reality has been overlaid by some other factor in the psyche of the individual. Now, we know what to look for in spotting false results: patterns in the numbers which clearly suggest a representational intention to miscommunicate what the real motivational profile is. I do not intend to examine how we identify these false results here, as I have dealt with the issue elsewhere, but I am interested in exploring why this happens; and this leads us directly on to the question of the three levels of motivation.

When we think of motivation, we think about what the word really means: motor + action, or motive-to-action, or movement-to-action. And what is the motor that makes the movement to action? Clearly, it is e-motion, or emotion. Our emotions are the powerhouses that produce our energy and so drive us forward. But these emotions can be healthy, which lead to a useful and accurate map; or less than healthy. In other words, negative emotions, and these can lead to false results.

My discovery of this phenomenon occurred whilst I was doing pro bono work for The Prince’s Trust some years ago, and my job was to mentor ex-offenders who has been released from prison. The intention was to help them get back on the straight and narrow by being enabled to develop entrepreneurial skills and through setting up small, self-employed businesses. So far as this went, it was a good idea, and I mentored a number of them. But I noticed in each case that although they all did a Motivational Map and agreed their Map was accurate, none of them actually behaved in a way which corresponded with their so-called motivators. The distinction I made then was between their needs and their wants, and I reckoned, extrapolating from my experience in corporates and other businesses, that what I was talking about applied, probably, to some 10-15% of the population. Namely, that no matter what the Motivational Map revealed, if the self-esteem was at a certain low point, then the motivators were replaced by survival needs: and we could see this clearly charted on the Maslow Hierarchy. See Fig 1.


Motivational maps and maslow

Fig 1: From Mapping Motivation: James Sale, Routledge 2016

In the area ‘beneath’ the safety needs, we find the Biological and Physiological needs, (notice they are ‘greyed’ out) and these are essentially what I am calling ‘survival’ needs - they go way beyond ‘safety’ needs, for safety needs are essentially ‘wants’: wants are psychologically healthy, but needs, whilst necessary, are not so blessed for reasons we will see.

So, in reflecting on this further, I would like to make a three-fold distinction here that I think coaches will find useful. Driving our behaviours are, first, our true ‘wants’ that we call our motivators; but also driving them are our needs and, I think, these fall into two classifications.

At the lowest level, which is to say the most impairing, negative and dysfunctional, we have the needs which are based on the primary emotion of fear. Fear has often been said to be the root negative emotion. We have expressions like ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ in order to try to give us confidence to counteract its effects. James Hollis writes perceptively of it when he says, ‘… the power of the mother experience, for men and women, is, generally speaking, the single greatest psychological influence in our lives… her fears, unlived life, and projected desires become part of the internal mythology of the child … from which he must escape in order to fully actualise himself.’ Notice he says ‘her fears’, first and foremost, which shape the child – and that we all have to escape from if we are to fully self-actualise. But how do we spot this fear?

Individuals who are racked by fear find themselves always using this sort of expression: I must do … this or that. I must do my homework, I must get this report completed, I must go to the club, I must get married/have a partner, I must earn a six-figure sum, I must travel the world and see everything, I must help people, I must go to church/synagogue/mosque … You get the drift. They are under a dreadful compulsion, and one much like that described in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, The Ancient Mariner. Interestingly, the Ancient Mariner had committed a crime – he has killed the albatross – and so he has to (has to = must) regale one in three persons he meets with his story. It’s a kind of confession, based upon an atavistic sense of guilt. Does this ring a bell? It should when you read all the LinkedIn posts from those going on about Imposter Syndrome: guilt, not good enough, and confessing it (albeit with the view of attempting to remedy the problem). The point is, though: they must do this confession!

But the second level of needs, which is also negative, but not so strongly as fear, is duty. Duty, too, is linked with guilt, only this time not the total dread or fear of absolute wrong-doing, but more the guilt that comes from a moral perfectionism. We spot duty when we see the words shift from ‘I must …’ to ‘I should … or, I ought to’. I should visit my mother. I should be kind. I ought to be patient. I should be punctual / reliable / helpful. I should pay my fair share. I ought to give more to charity. I should let somebody else have a turn … and so on. And we clearly see this kind of duty resulting largely from parental/carer inputs when we are very young. Take my last example: ‘James, [you should] let your brother/sister have turn.’ Ring a bell?

The thing in the West is that we have a much-diminished view of duty than do some Eastern cultures where it assumes a much more positive aspect. For instance, in the Tao Te Ching, we learn ‘Therefore: whosoever has Life adheres to his duty; whosoever does not have Life adheres to his right.’ Adhering to one’s right is very Western: all rights, and very few responsibilities! According to James Swartz in his book, How to Attain Enlightenment, ‘The Vedic model, which is responsible for the relative stability of marriage in India, is a duty-based approach; the idea being that happiness lies in fulfilling one’s duties and obligations to the family, caste, occupation and religion first and to one’s personal needs second. Not only is such a view conducive to social harmony, it neutralises likes and dislikes and makes it possible to eventually fulfil the primary duty to one’s self – freedom through self-realisation.’ I have little doubt this true, but we in the West do not experience it in that liberating way. As Dr Susan Rhodes noted, ‘What is missing here is the idea that duty is something we do not only do to comply with outer standards but to bring about some sort of inner alignment, healing or balance.’ Somehow our sense of duty misses out on that ‘sort of inner alignment’. And yet, those who keep saying, ‘I should…’ obviously believe that if they do do what they ‘should’ do, it will bring them happiness!

And so, we come to where we need to be – with our wants - not so much our needs - and thereby with our true motivators. What is the key emotion that expresses our wants? That emotion is love; and what is its expression? Not I must or I should, but I want to … And here, of course, is perfect freedom; for if we do what we really want to do, then we are not aware of any constraint or constriction on us. It just feels great – we can work all day because we love working … when the wants, the motivators, are being fulfilled. Another way of putting this would be to say that enjoying our motivators is undoing the effects of low self-esteem, fatalism and failure.

Interestingly, what we love is also the great antidote to what we fear, psychologically as well as spiritually. Surely, those in states of Fear or Duty are much more likely to produce false Motivational Map results and as coaches we need – no! we want – to move them on to that higher plane of freedom and release where they can realise what they truly want. Let’s love on then, for love always produces freedom!

For more information about Motivational Maps and how to access them - please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners

3 Motivational Book Recommendations

Reading a book

As the great writer Alan Moore once said, “Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.” Therefore, there are few things more inspiring and motivational than a truly good book. We asked some of our experienced Motivational Map practitioners to select their “most motivational book” and explain to us why they made their choice. So, here are three book recommendations by deep experts in motivation!

Susannah Brade-Waring – Senior Practitioner

My current favourite motivational book is NOT for everyone.  Indeed, I hope very few people need to read it.  But it’s my current favourite for 3 main reasons which all link to motivation.  It’s called, Somebody I Used to Know, by Wendy Mitchell. The first reason is that, unlike virtually every book and ‘helpful’ leaflet about dementia, this book offers hope. In my opinion, HOPE is the no. 1 driver of motivation.  When we have hope, we can believe and when we believe, we take action. When that action produces results, we gain a sense of achievement and confidence, and that reinforces and boosts our motivation.

The book is beautifully written by Wendy, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia aged just 58. She describes, in detail, the tactics she uses to maintain her independence. It touches the reader’s heart because it’s so relevant, real, and empowering. That’s the second and third reason. Motivation is emotional, and highly motivated people defy logic, statistics and naysayers. They relish the challenge, and have their ‘eyes on the prize’ because they believe it will be worth it.  And that’s why (unlike most other ‘helpful’ guides) it’s a book that I’ve given to my parents to give us all hope, to motivate us all to take action towards being the best we can be.

Queen Ramotsehoa – Business Practitioner

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:

BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

These agreements remained a north-star for me especially during the pandemic and as we came out of the pandemic. Life happened, and I realised that when people kept saying ‘be resilient’, I could follow and practice these agreements to stay clear, creative, and on track.

It might sound crazy that I am even talking about staying on track, and with these agreements the following were possible for me:

  1. As soon as I appreciated that everyone was impacted, I pulled myself towards myself and started preparing for beyond the pandemic. Nothing was personal so I choose to take life in my stride.
  2. I went back to the drawing board and reviewed all my plans. I acknowledged everything that was derailed. I confirmed the damage. I recommitted to the goals that stayed relevant and discarded or tweaked those goals that I needed to attend to. This means I was sitting with revised goals. Once those were in place, I put together an implementation plan and stayed impeccable with my word. I spoke life into everything that I did. 2022 has provided evidence of the integrity that drove my execution.
  3. No matter how difficult those days were, especially the unpredictability and the heaviness of loss of lives around us, I demanded the best from myself. This carried me. The more I did my best, the more I generated hope that kept me going.
  4. I did not allow myself to assume anything. I stayed focused on what I saw and was very selective with what I listened to. I took precautions and thanked God I survived with what I did, because I acknowledge that others did not, despite doing their best. I focused on facts. I resisted nuances and stories that were added that impacted clarity. So at all cost I avoided assumptions.

The Four Agreements have become my formula for resilience. Simple yet impactful as a template to deal with curveballs in life.

Kate Turner – Senior Practitioner

I’ve been wracking my brain to think which of the scores of books I’ve read on motivation over the years is my favourite. When first asked the question, it triggered my ‘Expert’ Motivator into thinking which one I’ve learnt the most from; or which one, if others were inspired to read, would give them the 1-2-3 of motivation. Having sat with the question for some time, I realised, the book I am compelled to write about is the one which set me off on a different trajectory in life. The one which helped me see the choices I had at my fingertips, rather than accepting the hand I felt I had been dealt. It’s from an author which divides the audience for he is a ‘marmite’ character. Indeed, for years, it is he who I have had in my head when I’ve distanced myself from the ‘rah rah’, ‘walking on hot coals’ type of motivational training. And yet, it is this author who intrigues me enough to vote one of his books my favourite on motivation. Have you guessed who it is yet? Yes, Anthony Robbins and Awaken the Giant Within.

Having dusted the book down off my shelf, why am I so keen to read it again over 20 years later?  In a word – congruence. As I thumb through the pages today, I am struck by how many practices, ideas, quotes and theories align with who I am today and the life I am keen to lead. I recognise the influence the book has had on my own teachings, including my own book. It reminds me that the words it contains are easy to read yet take a life time to practice. I so wish I had taken notes on my first reading to compare my thinking now to then. How have I changed? How am I different today? In one part of the book it invites you to score yourself in ten critical areas – including one of spirituality. In the margin, I wrote ‘not sure what this even means’. How different to my perspective today!

Links to purchase these books here:

Somebody I Used to Know, by Wendy Mitchell

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - part 4 - Generation Z

Gen z eye

Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (3 of 4) we covered Millennials. Today, we’re looking at the youngest generation, Generation Z.

Generation Z: born after 1996


Whereas Millennials grew up as the technology continually evolved and changed, Generation Z have always had advanced technology, and are therefore digitally fluent. The difference here is subtle. Millennials are more about flexibility and adaptability (having had to continually adjust to changes), whereas Generation Z are about extreme proficiency with the current technological tools. A friend of mine entered university as an older-adult student studying film. He was surrounded by Gen Z students. He considered himself a good editor and cinematographer, but when one of the classmates managed to make and edit a video within just a few minutes—during the lecture and without interrupting it—he realised just how fast the new generation are able to comprehend and master new technology. The explosion of the social media platform TikTok is an embodiment of this principle. A whole generation are using TikTok, which empowers one to create and edit videos—some of which are more sophisticated than you would think—with just a phone. Of course, there are massive downsides to this type of social media platform, but it’s not within the scope of this article to address them. Moving on, like Boomers and Millennials, Generation Z are likely to have Expert motivator high on their list of motivators. However, they are also highly practical—they like to achieve results, whether that be TikTok views, YouTube subscribers, or some other metric. This correlates more with the Builder motivator, who is by nature competitive and focused on measurable gains. What’s interesting is whilst these are two motivators shared by the Boomer generation (Builder and Expert), they express themselves so differently because the technological, economic, and cultural landscape of today is so different. Whereas Builders might have been focused on the acquisition of wealth as a practical measure of success, Generation Z seem to be more interested in digital measures of progress. This taps into an important Maps lesson, that the motivators will always mean something different for each person. It’s all very well knowing that someone has Creator as their number one motivator, but what does creativity mean to them?

Lastly, Generation Z flourish in diverse workplaces. The workplace is only going to become more diverse as our societies become more globalised, therefore, creating an environment that is diverse not just in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, but also in terms of age, experience, role-type, and personality will give Generation Z a stimulating environment more likely to catalyst collaboration and learning.


In exchange for their expertise and practicality, Gen Z want a culturally competent employer. In other words, they want someone who is up to date, who can keep up with trends, and who understands the world we live in today. Nobody wants to work for someone who is living in the past, or clueless about how their industry is evolving, but it’s particularly galling for Generation Z, who are so plugged in to the increasingly rapid shifts in culture. Gen Z like competitive wages—which correlates with their Builder drive. They value their expertise highly and therefore expect suitable reward for this. However, they are also open to being mentored. Like all Expert motivators, the relationship with knowledge is bi-directional. They like to acquire it as well as share it! Lastly, there is an interesting point of contrast between Generation Z, and Millennials and Generation X. Whereas Gen X and Millennials are characterised by their shared desire for independence and flexibility, Generation Z prefer stability—which corresponds with the Defender motivator—much like Boomers, which shows that history is indeed cyclical!

In conclusion:

Whilst no review of such a large and important topic can ever be complete, we hope this blog series has given you some interesting guidelines and action points on how to approach each generation. Of course, as we stated in the introduction, the best method is always to look at an individual’s motivational profile to get the best sense of who they are and what drives them—what they truly want. But hopefully identifying some of the broad trends correlating to each generation will give you a few ways to start meeting their motivational needs, and thereby retaining and nurturing top talent, whatever their age!

To find out more about Motivational Maps contact one of our licensed practitioners

You can also find more information in the book series - Mapping Motivation.


THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - Part 3 - Millennials


Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (2 of 4) we covered Generation X. Today, we’re looking at Millennials.

Millennials: ‘80 – ‘95 


Millennials are an unusual generation, perhaps one might even say unique, because they grew up at the intersection of an analog (aka, a pre-digital) world, and the digital one. Millennials remember cassette tapes, VHS, and the floppy disc. They witnessed the birth of the internet in the same way as the previous two generations. But, they were young enough that they also grew up with this digital revolution. This means that Millennials are for the most part very tech-savvy. Navigating interfaces and software comes naturally to them, as does adopting new hardware. This is correlated with the Expert motivator—something they share with the Boomer generation, although perhaps it expresses itself in different mediums and forms.

Millennials are also all about friendship and collaboration. It’s significant that Millennials are often criticised for their expensive social lives—particularly by the Boomer generation—and we can see from the broad strokes of this motivational analysis why that would be. Relationship motivators are largely antithetical to the whole modus operandi of the Boomer, who is all about work, work, work. But Millennials like strong social ties. Not to digress too much into the personal, but I am a Boomer and my son is a Millennial. I have many close, intense friendships, but they tend to be one-to-one. My son, on the other hand, is part of several large (they seem almost unwieldy to me) social groups. This might be to do with personality, of course, but I think it’s interesting that he and his friends (who we must bear in mind are virtually all Millennials themselves) have stuck together for decades. Clearly, it’s a big priority in their lives. But what might this mean from a work perspective? In short, Millennials play well with others. They like to collaborate. They like to get a second opinion. And they embody the acronym for TEAM: Together Each Achieves More.

The final thing to observe about Millennials is they are often focused on the “greater good”, aka, ethical causes such as the environmental crisis, fair wages, and justice. This correlates to the Searcher motivator, which is characterised by the desire to make a difference.


In exchange for expertise, a collaborative outlook, and strong values, Millennials on the whole desire an empathetic employer. Again, this is a subtle shift from Generation X, who above all wanted trust. Trust is important, but tends to be more logical or “left brain”. Empathy of course is more emotional and right brain. To me this suggests they want not just a Friend motivator in their employer, but also someone who cares about them as a person and who identifies with the same causes that they do, hence the Searcher motivator—an employer who is looking to make a difference on both a macro and micro scale. This is also reflected in their day-to-day activities. Millennials dislike drudgery (unlike the Boomer, who might be okay with drudgery if it brings home cash), and want work that is meaningful and aligned with their ethical values. The best thing one can do for Millennials—if we’re speaking in broad terms—is to show them the outcome of their hard work. Show them the house they built, the client they made a difference too, the impact their project had on those in need.

As we have seen, Millennials have grown up with an ever-changing technological landscape, therefore they like to keep up-to-date, and hence training and development is critically important. Expert motivators don’t just like to remain static, relying on previous learning, but to continually acquire new learning in an effort of self-improvement.

So now we understand a little bit more about Millennials. In the next and final article, we’ll be looking at the youngest generation, Generation Z. As we shall see, their motivational trends look very different. Stay tuned for more information on closing the generation gap!

THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - part 2 - Gen X

Owl in flight

Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (1 of 4) we covered Baby Boomers. Today, we’re looking at Generation X.

Generation X: ‘65 – ‘79


The first trait identified by the study as belonging to Gen X is independence. This is an almost one-for-one correlation with the Spirit motivator. The Spirit motivator wants to be independent, and have autonomy and freedom. Of course, freelance, self-employed, or entrepreneurial work is therefore very attractive to those with this motivator. This doesn’t mean they have to work for themselves, however, only that once they have been set priorities, they like to achieve objectives in their own way, without micromanagement. So, whereas Boomers, on the whole, like hierarchy and clear structures, Generation X workers may find too much hierarchy suffocating, especially if it impinges on their independence and freedom. With freedom and independence often comes innovation (for when we’re liberated mentally we can see things from a different perspective), and Generation X workers are found to be highly creative. This clearly correlates with the Creator motivator, a motivator which is all about creativity, originality, and bring new things into the world. Both Creator and Spirit are both in the Growth cluster of motivators, which reflects a very different overall focus than that of the Boomer. Whereas the Boomers are about Achievement and work, Generation X trend more towards self-development, autonomy, and critically: having their name on the final product (which is part of the Creator’s desire to see their vision realised and manifested). If I were a psychologist, which I’m not, I might be asking some curious questions about whether there are correlations between the Boomer generation’s extremely work-focused outlook and Generation X’s independence.

The last trait identified for Generation X was strong communication skills. This could correlate to a number of different motivators, but ultimately I think is more about the clear sense of self-possession that comes from having a strong Spirit motivator. Those who are strongly motivated to be independent often have to learn very quickly how to set boundaries, how to clarify their priorities and parameters, and being able to make new contacts in absence of a more traditional support network (such as a hierarchical business structure).


In exchange for independence, creativity, and strong communication skills, Generation X—according to the data—desire a trustworthy employer. Note, this is slightly different from loyalty. Whereas Boomers (overall) desire an employer who remains loyal to them, and likely a long-term employment, Generation X want to know that their employer is transparent and honest. This is more aligned to the Friend motivator than the Defender, in my view. The Friend represents our desire for belonging, to be part of a group. When we’re with friends, particularly long-term friends, we know we can relax because we trust them, and they have our best interests at heart. Boomers put their faith in the corporate structure or system, but as Generation X are more individualistic by nature, they want to know the people around them are right, and their hearts are in the right place.

Once this trust is established, Generation X like to put their creativity to good use, with plenty of opportunities to problem solve. This is another key aspect of the Creator motivator. In their eyes, problems are just another way to create new things: shiny solutions, clever work-arounds, and elegant fixes. But of course, if they are going to have creative license to solve these problems, they need autonomy. Therefore, overly rigid reporting systems or managerial intervention is going to swiftly demotivate Generation X.

Lastly, perhaps again because Generation X has a more individualistic approach on the whole, they like to work with competent colleagues.

So, we’ve covered Generation X. In the next article, we’ll be looking at much-maligned Millennials. As we shall see, their motivational trends look very different. Stay tuned for more information on closing the generation gap!

Here is a reminder of that fantastic infographic created by Antonio Grasso.

Generations 1122 blog for it_ linda


THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want

The gap

One topic that I frequently see discussed by top-level management is how to bridge the “generation gap”. It’s a very valid question, because even if there weren’t studies and surveys telling us there has been a dramatic shift in what people want—and expect—from work, most of us have observed this change in action in the workplace. The kind of incentives that appeal to the Baby Boomer generation simply don’t appeal in the same way to Generation Z, and vice versa.

It can be difficult when talking about the generation gap to see the picture clearly—and even more difficult to see what to do about it. This is because, firstly, we naturally tend to have a bias towards our own generation and its context. And secondly, we usually base our models of good practice on what the existing workplace culture is. We take cues from this existing culture and it becomes the “norm” which we expect others coming into the culture to acclimate to. We forget that the culture may be very abnormal for them!

Generations 1122 blog for it_ lindaINFOGRAPHIC DESIGN BY ANTONIO GRASSO

If we are able to take a step back, and look at each generation in turn, however, then we can more readily identify what they might want or find motivating. We have here a very helpful infographic, based on datapoints, that shows the best working traits of each generation (which can give us some clues as to the kinds of motivators we might see more frequently among this generation), as well as what they want from an employer (which gives us even stronger suggestions!). Of course, ultimately the best way to ensure we know what our employees want is to use the Motivational Map to find out their individual wants and needs, and to treat each person as unique. But we recognise that this is not always actionable or practical, especially in larger corporate settings. Therefore, it can be easier to group employees into categories. In this case, by generation. However, we must bear in mind the motivational correlations we’re about to suggest should not be regarded as stereotypes or absolutes, merely as guidelines, indicative of an overall trend. Sometimes these trends can help us to get started on the path of understanding our employees and meeting their needs and wants (thereby incentivising them to stay), and we can fine-tune to a greater and more specific degree later on!

So, without further ado, here is our four-part motivational analysis of the generation gap! Stay tuned over the coming weeks for each new instalment. First up are the Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers: ‘46 – ‘64


Optimism is not a trait that easily correlated with any particular motivator. In fact, from a Motivational Maps standpoint, optimism is actually an indicator of high levels of motivation. One possible implication of this data, therefore, is that the Boomer generation in general are more highly motivated that other generations. And high motivation in turn means high productivity. As controversial as this might be for some, I think many would agree that the Boomer generation have an outstanding work ethic. The very fact many Boomers are still working, given on average they will have gone beyond retirement age, is testament to that fact! But from where does this work ethic derive? We don’t have space here to fully explore the complex environmental, societal, cultural, and contextual factors that may have influenced this, but we can comment upon what it may indicate motivationally speaking. By far the most energetic motivator is the Builder. The Builder is competitive, likes money and material gain, and will work relentlessly to reach that number one spot. Given that Boomers were born shortly after the Great Depression and the deprivation of the Second World War, it is perhaps no wonder that there is a strong desire here to strive for wealth and prosperity. The third trait identified by the infographic is that they enjoy mentoring, or in other words, passing on their knowledge. This is certainly correlated to the Expert motivator, which is all about the acquisition and dissemination of information and knowledge. What’s interesting is that both of these motivators, Expert and Builder, sit in the Achievement cluster, which is work and career focused (again, reminding us of that strong work ethic). Of course, the danger here is not making room for family and social time, and not seeking to develop the self outside of work.


But what do Boomers want in exchange for their high energy, high motivation, and high expertise? For Boomers, it’s about loyalty—they want a long term relationship with an employer. I don’t want to jump the gun too much, but we’ll see that this is in sharp contrast with other generations, such as Gen X and Millennials, who prefer flexibility. The Boomer’s desire for job security correlates with the Defender motivator. Defenders like predictability, they like to know what’s coming down the pipeline so they can prepare for it. So, it’s likely when working with Boomers that they will desire some assurance of long term employment. Coupled with this is an appreciation of hierarchical structures; again, this is in sharp contrast to subsequent generations!

There are several motivators that correlate to hierarchy. Defender is one (Defenders don’t mind being told what to do, so long as the guidance is clear). The Star, who wants recognition, and likes to receive that recognition from the “top dog” (because that makes them a top dog too!). Then there’s The Director, who likes to have control of people and resources. Put a more gentle way, they like to understand the spans and scope of responsibility. What emerges from this is one key word: clarity. Boomers (in general) want to know where they are in the pecking order, what they have to do, and who they have to defer to. By making these things clear, you’ll be potentially making your organisation very attractive to this particular generation of workers.

That about does it for Boomers. In the next article, we’ll be looking at Generation X. As we shall see, their motivational trends look very different. Stay tuned for more information on closing the generation gap!


My 9 favourite motivational books


This is the time of year where resolutions and intentions are being set, goals are being defined, and in general one is looking to get a sense of what the year might hold. For many, this is a time to set personal development goals, which might include training courses but also reading a few well-chosen books! So, for those who still have spaces on their reading list and are looking for motivational suggestions, I have selected my 9 favourite motivational books. These are organised into three sets of three: Management, for the business-minded of you. Personal development, for those looking to go deeper into the Self. And finally Poetry, for those who are a bit creative and like a narrative dimension to their reading. All of these books share two things: deep insight and actionable points (yes, even the poetry—perhaps especially the poetry!). So, if you’re looking to make your 2023 more motivational, look no further!


The Future of Management: Gary Hamel

As a management book, it is so well written; you know? Paragraphs, not bullet points, argument and thought, not simplistic solutions and memes, subtlety, not black and white. Written by an academic but still great to read: “Scholars have repeatedly found that religious faith enhances self-esteem, improves physical health, and enlarges the capacity of individuals to cope with the traumas of life”. Read that again – yep, Hamel reads widely too and so connects all sorts of ideas outside of business and management with … business and management. Marvellous. Consider this: “Without a narrative that creates drama and meaning, we are listless and rudderless. That’s why meaning is a critical design rule for creating adaptable organisations.” In Biblical terms, without vision the people perish! There is nothing new under the sun, but Hamel has a great way of expressing these truths (backed up with lots of evidence that makes it compelling for today). Alongside all this, there are some wonderful case studies in this book too.

Coherence, The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership: Dr Alan Watkins

This book is a wonderful and yet practical read. It knocks on the head the idea that reason or rationality, or data and facts, are going to solve our problems, especially our leadership problems. As he says, “The trouble is, we think we are pulling the strings based on rational, verifiable data – we’re not.” Unless we address the emotional elephant in the room, we are bound, or doomed even, never to get close to solving how leadership and how people work. That said, there is a relentless logic or rationality in his arguments: “And people have emotions, so to ask them to leave their emotions at the door is like asking them to stop their heart beating while they are in the office because the noise is a little distracting.” Precisely! Coherent leadership, then, not only recognises “that the troops are in an emotionally different place from them, which is itself a skill, but will have sufficient emotional flexibility to offer different emotional input depending on where the team is on the roller-coaster of change.” This book provides a great toolkit of ideas and techniques by which you can become yourself a more coherent leader.

Motivational Interviewing: William Miller and Stephen Rollnick.

This is a brilliant book, though it is heavily academic, and not so easy for anyone in business to grasp, much less understand or use. But delving into it is really worthwhile, particularly if we are having to deal on a 1-2-1 basis with individuals who need motivating! The essence of it, is what they call mastering ‘change talk’. Change talk is how to persuade ourselves to think and act difficulty. There are four key issues surrounding it: the disadvantages of the status quo, the advantages of change, creating optimism for change, and enabling an intention to change. They provide 7 insightful questions which enable the conversation to take place that – if done properly (a big proviso) – will facilitate the shift in someone’s thinking. Essentially, it is a methodology for ‘re-framing’ how someone sees and interprets the world and their own place in it, and what is possible for them. A strongly recommended book, then – a modern classic.


The Enneagram: Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

I have probably got and read some 50+ books on the Enneagram, and anyone who knows Motivational Maps will know that the Enneagram was a major influence on their development; indeed, so many ideas that inform Motivational Maps derive from the Enneagram. To mention only two: the three-by-three matrix, and the correspondence between the Relationship-Achievement-Growth and the notion of the Heart-Head-Gut centres of the body. Perhaps my favourite book is Rohr’s one, which also was one of the first I read. It is unashamedly Christian in its perspective, and that won’t suit everyone, especially those wanting a more ‘new age’ feel to their texts. But Rohr’s account is quite brilliant and insightful: loads of nuggets of spiritual and psychological insights pack its pages. Some of you may know my articles on The Enneagram for New York’s The Epoch Times (the first one can be found at: In this I identify the 9 types of personality as characters Odysseus meets on his journey; we all find it easier to understand character when it can be personified. So, for example, in Rohr’s book we find each of the nine numbers typified by Biblical characters. Fascinating.

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really, Grow up: James Hollis

As I am well into the second half of my life, this book is especially resonant and meaningful. Hollis is a Jungian analyst with many profound and penetrating observations to make on the life we lead and how to cope when things aren’t turning out the way we expected. Picking up on Jung’s work, he notes, “Jung disturbingly observed that what we have ignored or denied inwardly will then more likely come to us as outer fate.” In other words, what we have denied in ourselves or become within, is going to meet us in the external world that most consider to be the only ‘real’ world there is. The book challenges us: “And who among us is strong enough, or ethical enough, to say that we are our own problem?” Who, indeed; it is easier to  blame others. Do you think you are in charge of your life?  “We who prize our conscious autonomy are dismayed to learn that there is a shadow government at work within us.” There is just so much in this book that is a revelation. Let me leave you with a quotation that all coaches might want to reflect on: “In fact, it is virtually impossible to do therapy with a person ‘in love’, just as one cannot work with a drunk.” Right!

A Complete Guide to the Soul: Patrick Harpur

Soul is not a popular word these days, except in the sense of ‘soul music’. We much prefer using the word ‘self’ or ‘Self’ to allude to some intangible aspect of who we are, aside from our bodies, when we talk about the mystery being a human being. But the self is not the soul; the soul is a much richer, deeper concept, and Harpur’s book explains it in fascinating detail. I especially love how he draws in ancient myths to illustrate his points. Of course, one reason why soul is an unpopular word is that it is not ‘scientific’; but as Harpur observes, “We know a thing by imaginatively participating in its unique quality rather than by objectively measuring its quantity.” And another reason the secular world dislikes it, is because it has religious connotations. But as Harpur correctly notes: “Even if we are not specifically religious, we can all still resonate with the notion that there is some part of us which should not be sold, betrayed or lost at any cost.” Yes, to lose one’s soul – the worst thing, bar none, that could happen to a human being. Read this book and find out more.


Paradise Lost: John Milton

The most sublime poem in the English language - barring none. And what is sublimity? The ancient Greek Longinus defined it this way: “the Sublime lifts him [the reader or observer] near to the great spirit of the Deity” and “gains a complete mastery over our minds”, so we enter a state of total absorption and for a while – for the duration of the reading or performance – we are lost to ourselves. The great English critic, Dr Johnson, said “his [Milton’s] work is not the greatest of heroic poems, only because it is not the first.” In other words, this poem stands just a notch below Homer. Secondly, “ ...for what other author ever soared so high or sustained his flight so long?” And here we have the essence of sublimity: the soaring so high and for so long; it’s the sustained performance that is so impressive and this of course depends on the elevation of language. For more information on sublimity and Milton, you can check out my Epoch Times article:

The Divine Comedy: Dante Alighieri

What can I say about this work that I haven’t already extensively said in major articles for the St Austin Review and The Epoch Times: ? Suffice to say, this is the greatest poem ever written, and it more or less has everything: narrative pace, incredible characters, astonishing and supernatural wonders, profound psychological depth, and complete linguistic control and expressiveness. It is poetry of the greatest order, and only one work I know of exceeds it – and that work is not ‘technically’ called poetry. But to give one astonishing fact about The Divine Comedy: many years back I attended a lecture in which the lecturer informed us that Dante’s three-part structure exactly mirrored Jung’s three levels: unconscious, aware, and integrated. It was like a pat on the back that Dante was a good Jungian. I raised my hand: “Excuse me, didn’t Dante come first by about 700 years? Isn’t Jung a good Dantean?” Nuff said!

The Gospel of St John: St John, The New Testament

Here for me is ultimately the greatest read of all, and it is pure poetry, though not normally accredited as such; after all, it is ‘scripture’. But scriptures are full of poetry and poems: the Bhagavad Gita is poetry and so are the Psalms; however, John’s gospel is in a different class altogether that would require a book for me to explain fully. At this point, the key thing to get is that to appreciate the poetry acquire a great translation (this applies to Dante as well – as a starting point try Dorothy L. Sayers or J. Simon Harris for the Inferno). The standard New International Version of the Bible is, in my view, a pretty useless translation: it destroys the language rather than enhances it. No, go for the New American Standard Bible, that is awesome throughout. To ‘feel’ the difference, take these two sentences from John Chapter 18 verse 1:

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.   New International Version

When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.  New American Standard Bible (Lockman Foundation)

The former is prose, but the latter quotation is poetry. How much more dramatic is “over the ravine” to “crossed the Kidron”. But more important still is: the reflexive pronoun, ‘He Himself’ doubly affirming his determination AND simultaneously alluding to another garden which another Adam was once in; also, note the priority given to Jesus entering, and the verb attaching to him, and then the disciples follow, compared with “he and his disciples entered” which gives them parity. The co-ordinated subjects weaken the force of the sentence, and in my view its theological significance. If you don’t like Christianity, read John’s gospel at least for the poetry!


I hope you find these 9 books as illuminating and motivational as I did. If there are any books you consider to be deeply motivational, please share them in the comments below.

I hope you have an amazing 2023, full of triumphs, joys, love, and good books.



The Future of Management: Gary Hamel

Coherence: Dr Alan Watkins

Motivational Interviewing: William R Miller & Stephen Rollnick

Personal Development

The Enneagram: Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: James Hollis

A Complete Guide to the Soul: Patrick Harpur


Paradise Lost: John Milton

The Divine Comedy: Dante Alighieri

The Gospel of St John: St John



In the words of the rapper NF, “If actions speak louder than words, it’s pretty quiet, isn’t it?” There are a million and one theories about how best to improve your bottom line whilst simultaneously engaging and motivating your people, but the problem is just that: most of them are academic theories with no practical application in real-world business environments. But at Motivational Maps, we aim at all times to prioritise the practical efficacy of our tools and methodologies.

So, rather than deal with theory, today we’re going to share three examples with you that are all real case studies of work done by one of our licensed practitioners. These stories or studies will give you an idea of how Maps works in a practical setting and the major impact it can have on both employee motivation and importantly the bottom line.

Scenario 1: Customer Satisfaction

Picture a small business with a core team that delivers custom projects for clients. There is a performance and profits problem with the team, and so they agree to do a Map. Searcher is their top motivator and Builder is their lowest. This means that their number one priority is “making a difference”, whereas their lowest priority is profitability. As you can imagine, this is not ideal for many businesses! Remember, we tend to avoid doing that which does not motivate us, even if its doing may be beneficial.

In a discussion with the team, it was revealed that the team members all want to please the customer when working on their project, so they often agreed to make changes to the specification of the job to satisfy the customer. These changes typically had an impact commercially on costs which the company then found more difficult to pass on to the customer when it came to invoicing. Because they had done a Map, we now understood why they were doing this—Searcher is their number one driver. In a non-profit context, this is no bad thing: they really do want to do the best thing for the customer.

After discussion about the team’s motivators, it was agreed that they would introduce an amendment form for all site staff to use. They completed the form with details of any change the customer requested so the customer felt heard, and they felt that they were meeting the customer’s needs in acknowledging the changes. The form is then sent to the office where they re-price the project and agree any cost changes with the customer before the changes are implemented.

Commercially, the business is in a much better position without the team feeling that they were compromising on their desire to please and look after the customer – to deliver, in fact, outstanding customer service.

Scenario 2: Problem Person or Problem Solved?

Picture another company in which a key team is currently going through a period of change, hence needs a coach to work with them on handling this change. One lady in the team—we shall call her Mrs Example—is significantly under-performing and her under-performance is inadvertently and inevitably affecting others too. When it came to discussing her Motivational Map with her on a one-to-one basis, it was noted that she had very low satisfaction scores. The Map assessment works in two halves: the first half reveals the order and priority of your motivators, and the second uncovers the degree to which they are “met” and satisfied. No sooner had Mrs Example been presented with her Map she said, “I’m in the wrong job, aren’t I?”.

The conversation became part Motivational Map discussion, part career coaching. Mrs Example resigned shortly after and had a much better idea of the career she did want to pursue. The business owner was delighted because he did not have to manage Mrs Example’s performance, which as many HR consultants will attest can be long drawn out and somewhat painful for all concerned. This saved the business time, effort, and money in managing the situation, but also freed Mrs Example to question and better understand her own motivations and find a way of meeting them. Win-Win in fact.

Scenario 3: Behold the Finished Product

In this third scenario, the business is having issue with staff retention in one specific team. They provide drawing services to various industries, but are finding that their design engineers are leaving the company and tending to take up standalone roles based in manufacturing businesses. Once Motivational Maps were provided to the team, it became clear the design team had Searcher as their top motivator, but they all had low satisfaction scores. The Director was confused as to why they had low satisfaction scores, as in his view they had job satisfaction when they correctly completed a drawing and sent it to the customer. After one-to-one discussions, it became clear that the design team were missing the final piece, actually seeing the “widget” or product they’d been involved in designing and this is where they would get true motivation from. This led to working with the Director to introduce a post-sales visit on larger projects. This was included in the job specification so the client knew about it and the client paid for the visit. It enabled the design engineer to see the finished product and significantly increased their satisfaction levels. In addition, the company trained them on some post-sales/follow up questions to put to the client, asking about next projects and so on, which meant that not only did employee retention improve, client retention did too.

These are just three ways in which the Maps can create greater satisfaction, internal harmony and collaboration, and provide financial opportunities. As we have seen, the bottom line—and profit—is often surprisingly tied up with the more ambiguous and human element of motivation. Through the counterintuitive process of addressing the realm of feelings, internal psychological drivers, and energy, we can manifest the physical and pragmatic rewards that we want and need to survive and thrive as businesses. The key lesson, however, is not to think about it, but to take action!

So, go to to find out more about Maps and what it can do for you! Thanks to Katherine Duff, Motivational Maps Licensed Practitioner, for these real case studies.

Source Katherine Duff, LP.

Why Motivation Is Better Than Hope



One word that I confess I did not expect to see in discussions around psychometrics, personality profiling, motivation, employee engagement, and the general science of people in business, is hope. That may sound like a quite bleak statement, so let me clarify: hope as a word has many powerful associations—religious, philosophical, spiritual—in short, associations which don’t immediately suggest congruity with a scientific approach! Indeed, hope is one of the three virtues described by St Paul (Faith, Hope, & Love) and considered the pillars of Christianity!

However, there is a growing body of research around and interested in hope as not merely a philosophical ideal, but a measurable psychological trait. While it’s important to be wary of the Western tendency to divorce concepts from their spiritual origins, and therefore rob them of their true context and power, it’s easy to see how this trend might be viewed as a boon, where hope becomes a more accessible concept rather than some high ideal that only a small percentage of leaders can aspire to.

In psychology, hope is defined as: “a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-directed determination and planning to meet these goals.” (Snyder et al, 1991). In other words, hope correlates to our expectation of positive outcomes. Not only that, but “planning to meet these goals”. When we have high hopes, we tend to plan more, which of course becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we are more likely to have a positive or “successful” outcome if we prepare!

However, we can also see that whilst hope can have a positive influence on outcomes, it can also trip us up when our expectations are dashed. Too much hope means our expectations grow out of control. This isn’t the same as dreaming big, or having big ambitions—these are healthy. But when we cling to hope and nothing else, we begin to lose touch with reality. One is reminded of those who spend inordinate amounts of money on lottery tickets, desperately hoping that their number will come up and they will win lots of money… Here Hope can lead us, ironically, into a state of passivity and helplessness.

It is fascinating that so much emphasis is placed on hope in the Western world, because the esoteric mystics viewed hope with suspicion and even outright distrust. “Nor shall a place for hope be found in your Heart” writes David Herrerias, acclaimed artist and occultist. “Hope will lead you to make expectations that will ultimately lead to Selfishness, Egoism, Disappointment, and Suffering...”

Harsh though these words are, we cannot help but see a dark truth in them. To hope is, in some ways, an egotistical act, for it implies that we are owed some kind of good outcome or fortune. And what happens when that egotistical expectation is disappointed? Well, we suffer… And this is a cycle many repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, lifelong basis.

But without hope, how do we function? It’s true that even though we might not fully understand hope, we may feel we need to have positive expectations for our future. For many, the thought of the weekend is all that gets them through the week. The hope—the expectation—of future reward.

But what if there was another way?

To return to the great mystics: they advocate being in the present moment. Western psychology is of course beginning to catch up to the ancient wisdoms, albeit in a much more reduced and stripped down form, with movements such as Mindfulness encouraging people to become more aware of the present. When we totally inhabit the present, fears, anxieties, concerns for the past or future fade away, and rather than our happiness being dependent on a future outcome (which, of course, means we are infinitely delaying present happiness in exchange for an ethereal, unreal future happiness), we totally embrace happiness now. Of course, this is easier said than done; for some, it is the journey of a lifetime to learn how to become present. However, the sweetest fruits are often the hardest to obtain.

But how does this all correlate to motivation? Well, motivation is energy, and energy can only be accessed in the present moment. Whilst it’s true that our nine motivators are divided into three clusters that loosely correlate with a past, future, and present orientation, motivation itself always happens in the present, in the now. For example, whilst a Creator motivator may have a future orientation and enjoy creatively planning ahead, it is the act of creation that motivates and fuels them, and so the energy is found in the moment, in the inspired act. Similarly a Friend motivator finds comfort and energy in their past and in their social bonds, but this is expressed through the very process of reminiscing and socialising with those friends! I doubt any Friend motivator wants to sit on their own remembering the past. They instead want to go and see those friends and relive that past.

So, we have a preferred orientation, a direction we’re looking, but fundamentally motivation happens now.

We are doing something and we feel that feedback of energy, excitement, fulfilment that lets us know we are engaging with something that motivates us and fuels us, something that’s aligned with our motivators and therefore our deepest drives. And when we begin to plan our life around doing more of what motivates us, we find that the abstract concept of a future hope seems less necessary, we can instead seize joy and fulfilment now in the present moment by meeting our motivators.

It is not my intention, however, to slander or denigrate hope, far from it. Even future motivation depends on our believing it is possible, hoping it is possible. But to avoid us being led astray by hope, and perpetually delaying our happiness in exchange for a nebulous future outcome, we have to learn what motivates us, how to meet our motivators, and how to be in the here and now. This, in a paradoxical way, actually strengthens our sense of hope for the future.

To chat to someone about your motivation why not contact one of our team of Motivational Map Practitioners

Or check out one of the books from the Mapping Motivation series.

Motivational Maps and Continuous Learning


Open book

How can Motivational Maps foster a continuous learning culture?

One phrase I have seen getting a lot of attention recently is “continuous learning” or alternatively “lifelong learning”. This is, in my view, a very good thing, because it goes some way towards rectifying one of the great errors of modern education: the idea that learning stops at twenty-one save for the rare few people who go on to do Masters or PHDs.

It’s a common truism that often the end of formal learning is the beginning of true learning; yet, we often don’t live our lives that way. For example, we all know that once you pass your driving test, one’s learning is only just beginning! But in the world of work and careers, the “system”, for lack of a better term, inculcates the idea that we learn until we are sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one, or maybe twenty five, and at that point we stop learning and then go and get a job. It’s the idea that what we picked up in school is sufficient to carry us through the rest of our lives!

Of course, good jobs provide challenges which are learning opportunities in themselves. And some employers will offer training to their staff. But the reality is for most people the challenges at work are few compared to the routine, and the training opportunities are likewise rare—more often than not, they are merely refresher courses, more like exams to check the employees can do their jobs than a real learning opportunity.

But now the idea of continuous or lifelong learning is beginning to catch on. So, what is it?

Continuous learning is defined by the Department of Education and Science (2000) as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge. You can imagine we are very interested in this last phrase, because motivation is our business and passion!

Continuous learning is very powerful and empowering for individuals and organisations alike. So many organisations come to ruin because they are unable to serve the needs of an ever-changing market, because they fail to adapt, or because they completely fall out of touch with their customers. Continuous learning is therefore less a “nice to have” than pretty essential, especially as the pace of change is only increasing, and exponentially at that. When we are continuously learning we change with time and circumstance, and, to use another buzz-phrase, “future proof” our business.

We all know individuals who, at a certain point, give up taking on any new information or ideas. They give up staying up to date, give up learning how to use social media or other technologies, fail to acknowledge that industries and professions have changed, or more worrying still: fail to acknowledge how the people around them have changed. This isn’t just the elderly. We see middle-aged and even young people who believe they know it all—and this becomes a kind of premature death, whereby the individual completely stagnates. Relationships can only be kept alive through being sensitive to another person’s needs, which may change over time, so we have to be continuous learners in this realm too. Continuous learning is therefore not just a business principle, it’s a life principle.


Needless to say, one of the big drivers of change in our modern times is the explosion of technological advancement, particularly in the digital realm. This is transforming many industries, and so now, more than ever, it’s pertinent for us to admit we can’t know everything, and that we have much to learn.

But whilst the idea of everyone becoming “voluntary” and “self-motivated” learners is a very nice one, there is a snag: not everyone is motivated by learning.

In Motivational Maps we have identified nine motivators that drive human behaviour. Of the nine, The Expert motivator embodies the drive to learn new things and demonstrate that knowledge. This is, appropriately, in the “Achievement” cluster of motivators (motivators that are more work or career focused). The Expert can never get enough learning and is really energised by the prospect of reading books, going on training courses, harnessing data points or learning opportunities, and then analysing all of this and generously relaying it to those in their circle. For Experts, thriving in a time of change, keeping up to date, and embodying the idea of lifelong learning is second nature. In fact, it excites and motivates them.

But what about the rest of us?

If Expert is not in your top three motivators, what then?

The power of Motivational Maps is that it allows us to make the invisible visible. When you discover what motivates you, so many aspects of your life become clearer. Likewise, from the organisational perspective, the previously hidden causes of blockages and problems may come to light. Discovering your motivators is itself a continuous learning process, of course, because unlike a personality profiling tool, your motivators change over time. This is an overly simplistic summation, but often when we find our motivators are being met, they drop down the priority scale. For example, if we were struggling financially, we might find The Builder motivator, which is concerned with material success, rising into our top three motivators. But, if we were to then secure a large deal that took off the financial pressure, it may well drop down again. Of course, some motivators do remain fixed over longer periods of time. We often find these motivators are ones that have become incorporated into the personality and identity of the individual.

Knowing what energises you, what motivates you, what “turns you on”, is an extremely useful tool when it comes to approaching continuous learning, because although the learning itself may not be our cup of tea, we can find ways around that by figuring out what does drive us. For example, if Builder was in your top three motivators, then you are likely to be partly driven by sales, success, and material reward—to word this more esoterically and archetypally: the physical manifestation of your inner success, be that a sports car, a house, or a leather-bound book on the shelf (and does your room also smell of rich mahogany?). How then could this correlate to learning or going on a training course? Well, now, you can make a “deal” with your inner psyche: “Learning this new information is going to help us become more successful.” Bargaining, in other words. Some short term pain for ultimately greater motivational fulfilment. In addition, you can re-frame the narrative so that it becomes more exciting to your existing motivators, “Because I have Builder in my top three motivators, I like having material things—therefore, I’m going to approach this learning differently by buying lots of beautiful books that I can put on my shelf afterwards.”

Of course, these principles also apply at an organisational level. If you know what motivates your people, then you can “sell” them the training or course far more easily. Likewise, if you are delivering difficult messages to colleagues as a result of new learning—for example, you feel the organisation needs to change direction in order to stay ahead of the curve—you can speak to people in the language that is most comfortable for them. To continue the previous example, let’s say you want to obsolete a product and replace it with a new, better offering that will be more appropriate for the current market. Rather than saying “Our old product wasn’t good enough” we can instead reframe this in accordance with the motivators in the room. Let’s look at two examples:

EXAMPLE 1: “John, as a Defender motivator I know you have this organisation’s safety and security covered. However, the data is showing that long-term this product is not going to stay the course. So, it’s best that we change now, before we need to, before there’s a problem, to ensure the company’s longevity.”

EXAMPLE 2: “Sarah, I know you have the Creator motivator in your top three, and there’s an opportunity I think to improve on your existing offering even further. Maybe I could leave it with you to come up with some ideas on how we could improve our current product offering?”

As you can see, these are totally different approaches, despite delivering the same message! Continuous learning is not always easy. By necessity, it requires us to let go of old ideas and re-write our processes and thinking, which can be painful if not handled delicately.

I truly believe the Motivational Map is one of the best tools for fostering a mindset of continuous learning in any organisation. And continuous learning is clearly one of the keys to not just business and organisational success, but long and healthy lives.

For more information about Motivational Maps follow this LINK

Create Motivation – Kate Turner


Our last article took a close look at what Mark Terrell had to say about motivation in his book Motivated. Today we will be looking at another recent book on motivation: Create Motivation by Motivational Maps Senior Practitioner, Kate Turner.

Kate Turner expertly sets the scene for us at the start of her book, establishing where we are now and how we got here. She draws a parallel between Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (one of the foundational elements of the Motivational Map) and the progression of each generation’s changing needs in the workplace. Whilst clarifying that these are only broad definitions and that each individual is uniquely motivated, Kate Turner outlines:

“For ‘traditionalists’ (those born between 1928 and 1945) loyalty, job titles and money were the focus. With ‘baby boomers’ (born between 1946 and 1964) ambition and goal-orientation arrived. Status, expertise and ‘perks of the job’ were, and still are, valued by this generation. Then Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) came along with their entrepreneurial spirit, demand for greater independence and work-life balance. For them, promotion on merit, not on years served, are important. Flexibility, recognition from bosses and financial gain all became important work-based rewards. Then came the Millennials (born after 1980), our most tech-savvy generation, along with opportunities for collaboration, flexibility and continuous learning. Millennials regularly seek feedback and need to know how they make a difference. This generation is the first to consistently seek self-actualisation (the process of realising one’s full potential) in the workplace, whereas previous generations probably saw this as something that would only be achieved outside of work. Next, we have Generation Z (born from the late 1990’s onwards), who are pushing the boundaries even further of what they want work to provide for them.”

She then explains:

“As each ‘lower order’ need was expressed, businesses adopted policies and practices to accommodate many of them. Self-actualisation, therefore, was inevitably going to be the next challenge that businesses needed to satisfy.”

Of course, this creates a massive challenge for businesses, because up until this point they have been “more focused on profit and targets than on purpose and meaning”. In addition, there are now potentially five generations working alongside each other, which almost certainly means a diversely motivated workforce!

“Now, more than ever, businesses need to get to grips with the individual motivations of its people and not just offer blanket reward packages and opportunities.”

Part of tackling this problem is challenging the traditional notion that employees are paid, and that is their reward for work. Kate Turner highlights how this attitude creates a vicious cycle (she terms it “the depletion cycle”).

  • We are unfulfilled by our work,
  • this drains and depletes our energy,
  • we then buy “things” to get a small dopamine hit
  • and then need to keep working to afford the things we buy!

“Not only does this meaningless consumption numb our souls, it is killing the planet.”

Kate Turner continually draws parallels between the individual arena and the wider picture. Our actions affect the wider whole and interrelate with bigger cultural movements. In esoteric philosophy this would be described as the interrelationship of the microcosm and macrocosm. To quote Gladiator, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Not necessarily in the sense of an “after-life”, though it’s a perfectly valid interpretation, but in the eternity of the here and now. Our decisions day to day actually do have an impact on the world, on every level of reality, from the emotional to the material.

Kate Turner talks about reaching a place of inner stillness in which we may finally hear “what makes us truly happy at a soul level”. This correlates with the ancient wisdom of Hindu, Zen, and Buddhist teaching (and esoteric Christian teachings as well) in which through meditation and prayer we may quite the noise of the world and hear the truth instead by getting in touch with the inner self.

This process will also lead us to becoming leaders. Rather than having a view of leaders being a rare minority, Kate Turner recognises that all of us can be leaders if we commit to, “the daily practice of taking responsibility for oneself, showing up fully and continuing to grow while enabling others to do the same.”

Rather than debating organisational structures (“top down” or “bottom up”), she advocates for a system whereby each person reclaims their own individual power.

To do this, we have to “align our actions and intentions with our motivations”, proving once again the vital importance of motivation in our lives!

This book makes an important contribution to the wellness and workplace debate; on top of which it provides practical tools and ideas to help implement what needs to be done if we are to have a thriving work environment. Strongly recommended as a great read.

To find out more follow this link...

MOTIVATED by Mark Terrell (2021)



Motivation is such a vast topic that it cannot belong to one author. Thankfully, awareness of the importance of motivation is growing, and there are many fabulous authors contributing to our understanding of what motivation is, why we need it, and how we can harness and improve our motivation levels. 

In Motivated by Mark Terrell, Motivational Maps Business Practitioner and creator of The Reluctant Leader Academy, we see that motivation is the foundation that underpins every other element of business. His tripartite model for leadership is centred around three core elements: “you”, your teams, and the business all working in harmony. Though his book is aimed at business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders (reluctant ones, in fact!), what’s clear is that without personal motivation, everything else falls apart.

“If not addressed, a lack of focus on leading, managing and developing your team will lead to the problems of having an unhappy, disengaged, and unproductive team. Your time will be taken up dealing with low morale, and you’ll wonder why you bothered employing people at all.”

But why do so many of us struggle to focus on leading when we start our own business? Mark Terrell has the disarmingly simple answer:

“Not wanting to be in charge is often linked to a focus on other things, or in other words, it is way down the list of priorities, and subsequently is done badly or not at all.”

These other priorities are likely related to our other motivators. For example, if we want to create, and that is our foremost and primary motivator, how likely are we to want to spend copious amounts of time handling queries from our employees? Not very. 

Mark Terrell suggests that re-connecting with the original motive (and note how he draws attention to the etymological link between the word motive and motivation) for starting a business, we can re-invigorate our sense of purpose, and get a new perspective.

“As time goes by and as our commitment to the business increases, it’s easy to forget what it was because we now relate more to our current circumstances.”

This is so well observed. We may start a business because, for example, we want “more free time”. However, often, the process of making a business fully operational and even self-sufficient means extraordinary amounts of work, which actually reduces our free time! The more determined we become to make the business work (i.e. “as our commitment to the business increases”), the more we actually move away from our initial motive (or in other words: away from what motivates us). When we move away from what motivates us, we lose energy, which in turn makes it harder and harder to “show up” and keep working on the business. In fact, we may even begin to resent the business and become disillusioned with it. We may feel it is a burden and drain, not the liberation we once hoped.

Motivated succinctly and pragmatically illustrates this all-too-relatable problem, but thankfully, also provides succinct and pragmatic solutions. It begins, according to Terrell, with the Self. Quoting Marcus Aurelius, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

We have to identify our biggest obstacle, and solve it, if we are to move forward. But what is interesting about this book in comparison to so many self-help or business books out there is that rather than talking about external obstacles, such as economic trends, technological disruption, or competitors, Terrell discusses the internal obstacles:

What do you think your biggest obstacle is? It could be tasks that you regard as mundane even though they are vital to the business, or maybe money isn’t something you strive for, and consequently, the cash flow in the business is tight.”

Of course, internal obstacles are far more potent barriers. Firstly, because we are often totally unaware of them. And secondly, because our thoughts, our mind, entirely shapes reality. There are many ways both scientific and spiritual of referring to this phenomenon, which has been observed in cultures as diverse as non-dual Buddhism and quantum physics. Mark Terrell describes it as our “filters”.

“We all have filters specific to us that allow us to act on information we see as relevant to us. This is why we can experience the same event as someone else, but their recollection of it could be totally different to ours. Once those filters have done their work, we then make an internal representation using our thoughts, which leads to our state of thinking, which leads to a behaviour. With this is mind, we need to be able to control our filters by being focused on what we really want.”

And getting to what we want is really the issue here. Otherwise, why start a business in the first place! In order to do that, however, we have to become the best version of ourselves, and the best leaders we can be. Thankfully, leadership and motivation, according to Mark Terrell, are not inherent traits we can do nothing about, but something we can develop:

“There is an adage that says leaders are born, not made, which is nonsense.”

A hugely encouraging thought!

You can purchase a copy of MOTIVATED from The Reluctant Leader Academy

Nine Ways To Sustain Team Commitment Part 2

9 hands

In part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the importance of employee retention, and how the most common strategies for achieving this: one-off events or “lifestyle” improvements to the office environment, usually only last in the short-term. We also hinted at how the true secret to employee retention is ensuring high motivation levels in staff, which means meeting their inner drivers!

In this article, we’ll explore this concept in more depth and provide some specific examples of how you might get deeper commitment from your team, and even more rewarding that, create a genuinely motivating place to work.

As we outlined in the previous article, and indeed many articles on this site, there are nine motivators that inform human behaviour. We don’t have the space here to explain each of them in detail, but suffice to say two key things.

Firstly, we all have all nine motivators. Unlike psychometrics or personality profiles, motivation is not reductive. Each of us has all nine of these drivers but we prioritise some drivers over others…

Secondly, the drivers sit on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs one level above the level of “survival” or what scientists call “physiological needs”, aka food, water, shelter, the fundamental basics of human life.

Now, armed with this knowledge, we can proceed!

In the previous article I mentioned that to create an effective strategy for employee retention or sustained commitment you have to “touch on each of the nine motivators. In other words, you have to provide incentives that correlate to each of the nine drivers informing human behaviour.” This is because it is the only way of ensuring that your retention efforts are going to appeal to all of your staff. Most businesses tend to suffer from the myopia of either their industry or their leaders.

To give an example, Tech companies, given the nature of their work, tend to focus almost solely on the Expert motivator, the thirst for knowledge and learning, and sharing that knowledge with others. Therefore, all their reward strategies and incentives are built around this motivator. They offer big bonuses for the people with the hard skills. They recruit people with hard skills. And they reward employees by with further training and learning resources. However, whilst no doubt many people will go into the Tech industry because they are motivator by the Expert, Tech companies still need people, and therefore, HR departments. They still need to be able to network and collaborate. In other words, they still need the “soft skills” that the Expert tends to overlook.

Another example might be an organisational head who is a Builder motivator. The Builder is very competitive, sales-driven, and results orientated. They like to win, to make money, and to see their success manifested physically. This is great in many cases. One wants to have a leader who is driven, and many successful business leaders do have Builder in their profile, because the Builder is proactive and gets results.

However, as you have probably already gathered, the Builder has blindspots. A great leader must be aware of these blindspots otherwise they are going to assume that all their employees are like them, and punish those who are not. The reality is that as important as sales are, a business cannot live on sales alone! Teams must be managed, data has to be handled, especially in our modern age. Builders tend to be risk-takers, or at least more risk-friendly, but some roles—such as that of an accountant—are much better suited to someone who is more risk-averse.

When we begin to look at the full spectrum of the nine motivators, it gives us a much more balanced perspective, and helps us to see where our blindspots might lie (especially if we complete a Map and see our own profile).

So, without further ado, here are nine strategies for employee retention, each one focused on touching upon a different motivator…


This might sound incredibly obvious, but it is surprising how many organisation get this wrong. We have all heard the term “scope creep”; the reality is that most employees feel that their roles are changing, but not for the better, not because of newly acquired responsibilities or skills, but simply because they are having more and more dumped upon them by upper management. When we have capable people, the temptation is to give them more to do, because we know it can be handled reliably, but we have to respect the remit of their job description. Make sure that every employee knows their job description intimately, and make sure when writing these job descriptions they are not filled with corporate waffle, but concrete examples of work expected. Then, hardest of all, stick to those definitions, until the time the employee is promoted or moves into another area of the business.


Again, this is basic, but it is alarming how many companies show little to no interest at all in their employees as human beings. Many people find as much reward in the social aspect of work as the work itself, and this is evidenced by how difficult lockdown has been for many people. If you have Friend as your number one motivator, then you will get a serious buzz from being part of a living, breathing community. As a manager, you can make these Friend motivators feel extra special by just taking a few minutes of your time each day, or every few days, to ask them about their life outside of work. Get to know them a little better and who knows, you might discover something very surprising!


Recognise talent. I would advise not doing this publicly unless you are absolutely certain the person you want to recognise is someone with Star in their top three motivators. However, it need not be public, merely sincere and praising. If someone is performing exceptionally well, take the time to let them know, face-to-face, how well they are doing. If they have a line manager, make sure the manager is there to hear the praise too.


One would think this is a basic managerial requirement, but the problem is that many organisations, particularly large ones, tend—instead of giving verbal, personal (there’s that word again) feedback—to simply use impersonal scoresheets. You are a “3 out of 5” on performance, etc. When recognising someone who has contributed something meaningful to the organisation, don’t use impersonal numbers but instead be very specific. Say, “You doing x thing was brilliant. It has helped the company and me immensely. You are a star.”


There is a famous dialogue exchange that is oft-quoted by managing consultants: “What happens if we train our employees and then they leave?” The reply: “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?” Training your people is one of the best ways to ensure buy-in, for they will feel not only competent and able to handle whatever is thrown at them, but also feel like the company has invested in them.


We mentioned that each employee should have a clear sense of what their job description entails. What is the remit they have been given? What is expected of them? Well, to go one step further here, their responsibilities should also be clear. If the job description describes what they are doing on a day-to-day basis, their responsibilities should include the people and resources that are at their disposal. So, for a line manager at a call centre, they might have 3 people under their management and a budget of $500 per week to resolve complaints. This is just an example, of course, but you get the idea. People like to know the span of their responsibility. Having responsibility is empowering. Of course, for people who have a low Director motivator, too much responsibility is overwhelming, so you will need to consider carefully who has what degree of responsibility. Putting too much on one person is always a mistake even if that person is highly competent. Ensure each person knows what they have access to, and they will feel like they are in control of their own destiny!


Most companies offer financial bonuses, and most are perplexed when their bonus schemes don’t seem to motivate staff to remain loyal. In fact, most employees tactically wait for their bonus payout and then leave the company anyway! However, this is not to say the idea of material rewards is a bad thing. In certain types of organisation, of course, such as the legal sector or financial sector, lump sums are essential. However, for most organisations, you might get far better results from other physical rewards: e.g. a bottle of wine, a customised mug, a voucher for a relevant shop, etc. These may sound small, but the concrete nature of the reward—being able to hold it in your hands—gives it special power, especially if the employee in question has Builder in their top three motivators. You might use a variety of criteria for distributing these awards. If you are looking for employee retention, then perhaps consider longevity with the organisation? At one year they get a big reward, then at two years another. You might get great benefit running these smaller rewards alongside a traditional bonus scheme. The key takeaway is that cash is not always king.


The Defender motivator, as we have discussed, likes their role to be clearly defined, and likes routine. However, if the organisation only sticks to routine, then this is going to royally hack off anyone with Creator in their top three motivators. Therefore, a balance has to be struck. Giving people a little variation in their routine will keep creative people on their toes, which is where they like to be! For example, if a major issue is looming on the horizon, why not have a creative day out where everyone problem solves? As long as you inform the Defenders ahead of time what is happening, they will be able to go with the flow. And the Creators in your team will be delighted that their imaginative efforts are being called upon.


Spirits love independence, and therefore the worst thing you can do is ask them to be homogenous. So many organisations clamp down on employees customising their desks and workspaces, or signing off emails in a quirk manner, or dressing in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Doing this is going to seriously demotivate your staff, and especially the Spirit motivators among them, who like to express themselves. Allowing people small freedoms is an act of charity that will infinitely endear you to them. If you give nothing, then why should they give you their time? Relax the restrictions you place on people in areas that don’t meaningfully impact on the business, and you will find energy levels and commitment rising.


Last but by no means least, we come to the communication of the organisational mission. We talked about clear communication of job roles, which is semi-unique to each individual. But we also need to make sure that the company’s mission is clearly communicated to every single person in the organisation no matter their role. This is important for many reasons. Firstly, those with a high Searcher motivator want to know that they are making a difference. They want to know what cause they are fighting for, what Simon Sinek called the “Why”. Secondly, when people are aware of the company mission, they see beyond the daily grind. Now, I need to take a step back here, because naturally having a mission that excites employees necessitates upper management themselves seeing beyond such crude objectives as “selling products”. Why sell these products? What does one hope to accomplish? To revolutionise an industry? To make people’s lives better or easier? Find the organisation’s true mission and make sure every person, from janitor to CEO, knows what it is!

Hopefully, these nine tips have given you some fuel to start tackling the all-important issue of employee retention and long-term sustained commitment. As you can see, by identifying and meeting the motivators of your staff, you can create a work environment that is rewarding, nurturing, and exciting. The great news is that this isn’t at the expense of profit, and in fact will multiply your profits as productivity increases and overheads diminish from reduced turnover rates.

Find out more about the nine-motivators, and how you can discover what specifically motivates your employees, by going to or contact one of our expert Motivational Maps Practitioners and also consider reading Mapping Motivation.


Sustaining Team Commitment: Part 1

Sustain team

It’s often said that HR has three primary responsibilities, the “three Rs”: recruitment, retention, and redundancy (or Removal!). Of these three, most HR departments seem to focus predominantly on the first and last of these. Indeed, this is understandable, as the middle one, retention, is by far the hardest to master.

Frankly incredible financial resources are going into recruitment, including payments to agencies and generous packages to secure top talent. Similarly, employee turnover rates in the UK are at a record high of 57.3% according to ApolloTechnical, which means more redundancy and more requirement to fill those empty seats. Some of that is to do with cost-saving in our era of uncertainty, aka organisations making employees redundant at a rate not seen since the economic crash, but even if we strictly limit it to voluntary turnover, the rate is a solid 25%. TeamStage figures are even bleaker, suggesting 81% of employees are “considering quitting their jobs”.

But why are so many people leaving or considering leaving their jobs? And why are so many employees deemed so unproductive as to be worth getting rid of? Surely, if money is an issue for organisations, then more bodies is a good thing as it theoretically means more productivity, even if some of those bodies are not performing at the very top level?

The answer to all these problems lies in motivation. Motivated employees not only pull their weight (studies reveal they can be up to 16x more productive—let that staggering statistic sink in), but they also tend to stick around because they are energised and fulfilled by what they do. There is, therefor, no question that the key to cracking employee retention is in motivation.

This seems simple. “All I need to do, then, is motivate my employees!” I hear you say. But sadly, if motivation were simple, then we would not have had a century or more of literature, research, and “experts” trying to pin down exactly what motivation is and how it works. In addition, organisations would not be in such a dire state. Recent research by TeamStage in their “Motivation Statistics: Numbers In 2022” paper reports only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged! How, with all our research and knowledge and the growing awareness of things like EQ and mental health, could we have gotten it so wrong?

The answer is that motivation is still not fully understood, principally due to several popular-culture ideas that have arisen around motivation. For example, if we look at the common motivational strategies (or in other words: employee retention strategies), they are usually centered around one of two things: one-off events or lifestyle improvements.

The first of these approaches generally take the form of motivational speeches (they get in a guru to talk to employees about a relevant topic and “pump up” the staff), activity days (paintballing seems to be a common choice), or parties! Whoopee!

While none of these are bad in and of themselves, the problem is that their impact doesn’t last. After a week or two of being fired up, things go back to normal. I have heard stories, that would be funny if they weren’t distressing, of bosses taking their employees out on these fantastic activity days only, the very next morning, to grill them based on some performance issue. Not very motivational, as I’m sure you can imagine, and it totally undermines the benefits of putting on such an event in the first place!

To use a perhaps controversial metaphor, if you want to fix your company, to motivate your staff, you have to approach the organisation like you would a recovering addict. It’s very easy for an addict to remain clean—to behave differently—when they are whisked off to a facility and have no contact with their former world. But as soon as you drop that person back into their old world, the old habits come back and re-form. The change has to happen in the office environment. You can go on as many away days as you like, but the hard work is building this change into the fabric of every-day reality.

The second of these approaches is when the office is updated with various glamorous features: gaming consoles, for example, or special food cooked by an in-house chef, or gym facilities employees can use any time. The problem, here, is that the joys of luxury and extravagance—as anyone who has ever enjoyed a degree of wealth will know—wear off. If you only drink champagne and eat caviar even that becomes boring after a while! In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “The mind rebels against stagnation”. The one possible exception to this rule are those strongly motivated by The Defender, which values security and predictability, but even The Defender will leave their job if they feel that it’s all top-show and there is no deep, underlying security.

Sure, having foosball tables and gaming consoles is nice. But they’re just things. People will enjoy them for a while, but then move on. Even the Builder motivator, who likes to see material manifestations of success (the house, the car, the cash), will tire of glamour if there’s nothing in the organisation stretching them or appealing to their competitive spirit. Long ago, GK Chesterton observed: “The typical modern man is the insane millionaire, who has drudged to get money, and then finds he cannot enjoy even money, but only drudgery”. Material glamour may distract for a while, but eventually the deeper currents of human motivation will pull people towards something that rewards them at a deeper level.

If you want commitment from your employees, and have tried the former two strategies without success, it’s time to embrace the power of motivation; real motivation, not just “motivational speeches” (what in my younger day used to be called “Ra Ra motivation”) or one-off jolts of electricity to try and galvanise the corpse of your de-motivated workforce.

To do this, you have to touch on each of the nine motivators. In other words, you have to provide incentives that correlate to each of the nine drivers informing human behaviour. Whilst this may sound like a lot to do, the truth is it’s easy because with Motivational Maps we now have clear insight into what these nine drivers or motivators are. And it is probably going to be a lot cheaper than taking all your employees on an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai or hiring Tony Robbins to give a talk!

What, then, are these 9 motivators and how do they link with sustaining team commitment? In part 2 of this article we’ll look at them in a lot more detail.

Find out more about the nine-motivators, and how you can discover what specifically motivates your employees, by going to or contact one of our expert Motivational Maps Practitioners and also consider reading Mapping Motivation.




9 connecting threads

It’s all very well having a brilliant product or service, but no matter how good that product or service is, if you can’t position it with potential clients, you’ll never get buy in. Likewise, if you’re a business leader and you want your employees to complete Motivational Maps, you have to position it correctly with them, otherwise, no matter how insightful and useful the Maps are, the body politic will reject it!

So, how do we recommend organisations position the Maps to their staff? Here are 9 crucial steps! 

1) Be frank and open

Okay, this one is fairly obvious, yet it’s amazing how easy it is to get wrong. Many organisations forget to tell their staff not only why they are undertaking certain initiatives but when and what too! I distinctly remember one morning walking into an office where I had worked for a year, only to find the entire place in chaos and all the desks re-arranged. Management had decided it was time to refresh the work-spaces and optimise synergies between departments. However, I only found this out long after the fact! No one had had any idea what they were planning except the COO (Chief Operations Officer). Management expected people to just turn up, find their computer, and carry on without asking a single question!

Therefore, if you are going to use Maps with a team, department, or even your whole organisation, make sure you clearly communicate what is happening to everyone involved via multiple channels (email, announcements during face-to-face meetings, bulletins on the pinboard, etc!).

2) Reassure staff that this is ABSOLUTELY not going to be used for evaluation purposes (or linked to pay reviews) but for developmental reasons instead

Many employees can—justifiably—feel suspicious about any form of assessment in the workplace as there are many tools used to evaluate staff productivity, and this frequently result in layoffs and pay-freezes (even when this was not the original and intended use of the tool!).

Sadly, many employees feel they are already being excessively monitored at work, and if you do not correctly communicate what Maps is and what you’re trying to achieve with it, you run the risk of the Map being viewed as another form of control and needless data-gathering.

Reassure your staff, therefore, that the Maps is not linked pay-reviews, is not an evaluation tool, and that the aim is to develop your people and empower the employee by revealing what really drives them.

3) Be crystal clear about, and stick to, a well-defined process

In your communications, you should clearly outline what the process is going to be. When will the Maps be sent out, when do people have to complete it by, what will happen next (likely, they will have a session with a licensed Maps practitioner either in a group or one-to-one depending on the number of people involved)? The next challenge is of course to stick to this process as closely as possible so no surprises are in store for your teams!

4) Discuss how motivation and performance are linked and how traditionally training is always about skills, and motivation tends to be ‘assumed’ or overlooked

Firstly, many employers mistakenly tend to assume that money means motivation, but our research reveals that less than 10% of the population are actually motivated by financial incentives! We only need to look at the sheer number of people working for organisations such as the NHS to realise the truth of this! By acknowledging it, you will curry favour with your employees, because rather than patronising them with the idea that they are “only in it for the money”, you will instead be inviting them to reveal their true motivations, which are likely to be more complex. Having said this, some people genuinely are motivated by financial gain, and this is okay—all motivators are equal. The only “bad” situation from a Maps’ point of view is when our motivators are not being met!

Secondly, motivation is not competency. For example, if you have Creator as your lowest motivator, that does not mean you’re “not creative”. What it means is that creativity is not real a priority for you. Therefore, measuring motivation is not about measuring the skills of your employees, but about measuring their inner drivers.

Having said this, when we are highly motivated, we perform at a much higher level (studies recently conducted by TeamStage have shown a 20% increase in productivity as a result of being motivated at work; older studies show much higher figures!).

Explaining this nuance clearly to your employees, who may be more used to traditional modes of training and skills acquisition, will help them understanding the importance of motivation and the Maps.

5) Talk about the benefits and insist on positive expectations, refusing to accept any opt-in/opt-out scenarios, while simultaneously respecting confidentiality and consulting on how Map results are to be shared and disseminated

If you give people a choice as to whether to complete a Map or not, the battle is already lost! Your employees will be busy people, working hard, and even if they are intrigued by the idea of discovering their inner motivators, they are ultimately likely to decide that it is a distraction from their “real work” and that they need to prioritise X or Y client, or X or Y task. Therefore, you have to insist that completing a Map is part of their job, part of their development, in the same way as a meeting or an annual review. Reassure your staff by continually emphasising the positive benefits of Maps: “Maps will help you (a) discover what is really driving you, (b) open up clear channels of communication between people and departments, and (c) create a non-judgemental language with which critical issues can be discussed.”

In addition, and this correlates with point number 3 on this list, make sure your employees know how their Maps results will be shared, disseminated, or fed back on. Are you using Team Maps? If so, will that mean everyone in their team will eventually see their Maps profile? Or will only the licensed practitioner and upper management be able to see the results? Neither answer is right or wrong, but making sure this process is transparent is essential to get your staff on board with Mapping!

One other key aspect of the above is to set an example by completing your own Motivational Map! Employees are infinitely more likely to trust the process if you have taken the plunge first! We have noticed time and time again that the failure of the No 1 to do act, share a Map, or otherwise participate in the process proves extremely demoralising for most staff.

6) Especially emphasise the personal benefits of self-awareness and relationship building that staff will gain from the process and not only for work

The benefits of motivation go far beyond the realm of work, although work is where we predominantly tend to focus on the issue. The “shared language” Maps creates around motivation will allow employees to have real conversations around their behaviours without creating conflict.

This works due to the classic psychological principle of “distancing”. By talking about our “motivators”, they become almost separate from us. This means that if we want to give someone critical feedback we are no longer criticising themdirectly, we’re instead talking about these disembodied concepts.

For example, if Jane is a high Spirit motivator (so she values independence, autonomy, and freedom), and her boss, Mark, is a high Director motivator (so he values control of resources and people), then Jane can explain to Mark that his Director motivator is impinging upon her Spirit motivator—the Spirit does not like to be controlled! Or, vice-versa, Mark could explain to Jane that her Spirit motivator is causing him problems, as he likes to be certain about where people are at. This is much preferable to Jane calling Mark a “control freak” or Mark calling Jane a “loose cannon”, which is perhaps what would happen without the lucidity of Maps!

7) Explain that Maps are not a one-off hit but an ongoing programme

Unlike psychometrics which measure the 20% of personality that is fixed, Maps measures the 80% that is experiential and therefore changeable. We estimate that in periods of stability, a Maps profile can shift roughly every eighteen months. However, in periods of uncertainty and rapid change (like the one we’re living in now!) this process is significantly sped up. In addition, aside from changes in our profile—aka, the arrangement and order of priority of the nine motivators—our level of motivation can change. In fact, the whole aim of using Maps is to increase the motivation levels of our employees for higher productivity and performance.

Therefore, it’s important that you explain to your staff that this is not a one-off survey, a one-off event for a bit of fun, but something that will be continually revisited. At a deeper level this is about creating a culture around motivation at you workplace so that an understanding of motivation and a desire to perform highly are baked into the infrastructure of the organisation.

8) Explain the core superiority of maps over psychometrics/personality tools and specifically how Maps do not stereotype individuals, since motivation changes

Most people rightly fear that psychometrics and other personality tools will stereotype them. Many personality tools are falsely correlated with job roles (aka, X type of personality is suitable for a leadership role, but Y type of personality is a mere worker!). The Maps does not fall prey to this pitfall because it focuses on the 80% of our personality that can change, AND because unlike most psychometrics you are not identified as a type but as a preference. In other words, we have all nine motivators in our profile, but we prefer two or three of them at any given time! This is a subtle but essential distinction to make. Many employees express delight and relief when they realise that their Maps profile does not limit them, but on the contrary, shows the full extent of their potential!

9) Clarify that by focusing on motivation and performance these will grow in our collective experience and so we will all benefit accordingly

As mentioned in point number 6, the benefits of motivation go far beyond simply work. Whilst high motivation does generally lead to greater productivity which in turn correlates to high performance, when we are highly motivated we also begin to see benefits in other realms of our life. In short, we’re energised. If you were to ask yourself the question, “What would my life be like if I had 30% more energy?” the answer might stagger you! I have seen clients actually shed tears contemplating how much better their lives would be if they had more energy as a result of being fuelled by their activities rather than drained.

Shifting our focus from skills and efficiencies to motivation and performance is quite literally life-changing. Whilst you may not wish to “over-promise” to your employees, clarifying for them what a significant shift this change in focus represents will help them realise that you are not only trying to improve their work-lives but their entire lives—and what could be more compelling for your employees than that?

To get expert advice about Motivational Maps contact one of our licensed practitioners.




Runner crossing line

According to TeamStage’s Motivation Statistics: Numbers In 2022, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged and 81% of employees are considering quitting their jobs. These figures are pretty staggering, especially considering the diverse job options available in the modern market, the flexibility with working styles, and the way that companies allegedly incentivise their employees with benefits and bonuses. Clearly there’s a disparity between appearances and reality, and even with all the amenities of technology and with modern narratives of inclusivity and “soft touch” management, people are still deeply dissatisfied with their work and seeking change.

Job satisfaction comes from engaging in work in alignment with our motivators. If we know what motivates us, what drives us (another word for this might be: what we truly want), then we can find work that fulfils and fuels us, rather than drains our energy—therefore leaving us among the 85% of people who are disengaged at work!

We at Motivational Maps have a tool that can reveal the motivational profile of an individual, making the invisible visible, so that managers and employees can better align themselves with their inner drives.

But how does this process work? Here are 8 ways Motivational Maps can boost your business!


Motivated employees are more productive (20% more according to TeamStage, but other research has revealed they can be up to 16x more productive!) This is because when we are motivated, we have more energy. When people feel that they are acting in alignment with their motivators, they will always go the extra mile, not because they have to, but because they want to. The paradox most business leaders fail to understand is that in order to get what they want they have to give their employees what they want!

High productivity means high performance. And when staff know that they are performing at a high level, they feel good about themselves. Performing at a high level can become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, in that the more we perform, the more we realise we can perform. In teams—properly managed it should be said—this can become infectious, with everyone wanting to be part of an organisation that is truly delivering a valuable service or product.


Companies with actively motivated employees realize a 27% higher profit (TeamStage). It makes sense that the more productive we are, the more we perform, and therefore the more profitable our efforts become. Most organisations sadly focus on efficiency over performance. In other words, they concentrate on making sure the boxes are ticked, the paperwork filed on time, rather than empowering their staff to feel that they can really achieve results.


Employee Experience, or EX, is finally becoming a high priority for most serious business leaders. Mike Sharples and Nicholas Wardle’s new book Monetising The Employee Experience makes a compelling case for the psychological and monetary benefits of looking after staff as your first priority. In the words of Richard Branson, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

The core component of Sharples and Wardle’s EX manifesto is motivation—understand what drives your employees and you will very easily be able to engage them, because you know what they want!


Employee engagement and motivation reduces absenteeism by 41% (according to TeamStage’s research). When people are motivated and engaged, they actually want to be at work! We have all met these high-energy people at some point in our lives. Sometimes we wonder “How do they do it? What’s their secret? It must be drugs!” Motivation is indeed very much like a drug, can even be considered addictive in one sense, because the feeling of being energised, focused, and fulfilled is hard to beat.


Even if you are not sold on the idea that increased productivity leads to increased profits, discovering your employees’ motivators can save you money another way. Motivated employees are 87% less likely to resign according to TeamStage’s latest research. This is because their inner drives—their inner needs according to Maslow—are being met.

Motivational Maps is partly based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What we call motivators are what Maslow referred to as “secondary needs”—secondary because they develop after the basic physiological needs such as food, water, and shelter have been met. In other words, our motivators are only one step away from the need to eat. No wonder, then, that demotivation—a condition where our motivators are not being met or fed—is such a bad place to be!

Consider your employees’ motivators, then, like the very basics of modern work: a desk or space to work, a cafeteria or a place to eat, and a salary. These things are essential. So are our motivators!


One of the biggest problems most business leaders and coaches face is scaling. Organisations with hundreds of employees are very unwieldy. It’s hard even for the best leaders to get a sense of the individual people operating in the far corners of the business. Coaches only have so many hours. Even if they run large group sessions, not everyone is going to get the attention and time they deserve. This is where technology can help us! Maps, being a digital tool, can infinitely scale. Every person who completes a map receives a 15 page report, packed with information that can help them. Motivational Maps has both Team and Organisational functions which mean that you can easily map an entire organisation. Beyond the basics of helping employees discover their alignments, this can reveal deeper trends and valuable information that can help you solve problems.


Much emphasis has been placed on creating cultures of continuous learning in your business. This is due to the rapidly shifting landscape of business. Whilst I am always wary of fads and trends, it’s fairly impossible to deny we are entering a period of more rapid change than ever before. Technological disruption, explosive exponential growth, these are both blessings and banes we must harness—or else steer carefully around—as we navigate this new era.

Unlike psychometrics, which are fixed and measure the 20% of “the Self” that is fixed, Maps measures the 80% that is experiential and can change. Maps is the nurture to psychometrics’ nature. This is not to diminish the value of psychometrics as some people do find them helpful. Indeed, the Maps is partly based on arguably the greatest psychometric of all: the Enneagram! But I digress.

The fact that Maps measures the 80% of Self that is not fixed means that our motivators can change. We witness this phenomenon every day but previously we haven’t had an accurate language to describe it. For example, why do mid-life crises occur? We often believe these are some kind of “failure of character”, whereas in actuality they reflect a shift in motivation. Perhaps someone grew up in a very poor family and therefore was motivated by money and financial security—but then, having achieved huge financial success by age 50, they no longer feel motivated by this! This means they would have to discover their new motivators, which, without a tool like ours, means a process of soul-searching and introspection that can take years!

Maps are not a one-time experiment that employees smile about for a few weeks then forget. Maps allow business leaders to foster a culture of motivation, high performance, and learning—learning about the Self, about others in their team, and about organisational direction. If you needed any more persuading, check this figure from TeamStage: “An extensive, long-term study shows that companies with the best corporate cultures, which embrace comprehensive leadership initiatives and highly value their employees, customers, and owners, increased their revenues by 682%.”


What do we all really want—aside from our motivators met? We want someone to solve our problems! In fact, you might consider our motivators as expressions of the problems we want solving. After all, if we want to belong to a group (The Friend), then doesn’t this suggest we currently don’t feel we belong? If we want financial security (The Builder), then doesn’t this imply we are not currently financially secure?

In business, this could be to do with profit, leadership, expertise/technology, or staff-morale, the list goes on and on (indeed, this could be another blog in itself). Whilst we can’t reasonably claim that Motivational Maps will solve all problems, I will say that often these problems are more interlinked than we realise.

If we ask why our company is not making profit, we probably don’t immediately assume it’s correlated to demotivated staff (in fact we might erroneously believe it is the lack of profit causing the demotivation, not the other way around!), but that is likely the reality. Similarly, if we have problems with staff—misbehaviour, high turnover, poor performance—then we might understandably think that the best thing to do is cut our losses (and in some instances this might be right) and let them go.

Making the effort to discover what is really driving our people is the key to unlocking their performance, however. And we can only do this if we have a tool that can reveal the invisible realm of motivation.

If you would like to speak to someone about Motivational Maps you can find a list of our practitioners HERE




In homes across the world, excitement grew, 

for Christmas time was very near, 

but Santa had a problem on his hands:

demotivated reindeer! 


Where once they’d run like wind, as fast as thought, 

now they were slow as slugs on stone, 

and when Santa reminded them of kids 

waiting excitedly, they groaned.


“Give it a rest, old Gramps!” bold Dasher said, 

“we do this every blasted year!

And always it’s the same, no benefits; 

For you’re the one who gets the beer!” 


Now Santa saw just how upset they were, 

that mutiny might be at hand! 

But Mrs Claus devised a cunning ploy: 

The Maps would help him understand! 


Nine reindeer and nine motivators - now 

it all made sense! Like Dasher said, 

he’d treated them as equal, all the same, 

when actually their drives weren’t fed. 


Bold Dasher was a Builder, needing bread;

But Dancer had Creator’s fire; 

Prancer a Spirit, soaring to new heights;

Vixen a Friend, friendship inspired; 


Comet was Searcher, selfless for the cause; 

while Cupid loved security; 

Donner Directed them and checked the reins; 

Blitzen knew astronomy; 


And last of all, red Rudolph was a Star, 

and blazed as leader of their pack; 

now each one pulling weight, and happy too: 

Christmas was saved, and back on track!  

Motivated reindeerSo thank you Mappers all around the world

Who spread the message far and wide;

So even Santa Claus has heard, and heeded,

And presents roll at Christmastide!


Joseph Sale

Nine ways to… empower your people

9 hands

One of the great paradoxes of life is that in giving, we receive. In empowering others, we give power to ourselves. It is a weird principle, but the older I get, the more I realise its truth. If you want to be adored by many people, first, you have to shine the spotlight on them. If you want wealth, you have to invest. If you want to create, you have to engage with and honour the creations and innovations of others. And so on and so forth. So, appropriately, today I wanted to share with you some key ways that you can empower others. We have selected nine methods, because, in fact there are nine motivators! If you do these nine things, then you are really going to be covering all the potential bases, and appealing to every type of motivator.

  1. Have a leader prepared to change the culture (Searcher)

Your motivational profile not only tells us how motivated you are—or another word for this might be “energised”—in your current role, but it also gives us an indication of how “change friendly” or “change averse” you might be. Unfortunately, many leaders are actually very change averse in a real sense, which means they will actively block perceived threats to the established workplace culture: they hire the same types of people, they use the same working methodologies even if they are outdated, and they manage with the same top-down style management approach that has proved largely ineffective for the last 60 years. Many leaders try to show willing by implementing small changes: re-arranging the office seating, or introducing a new piece of software here and there (there has been a particular craze at the moment for internal work-specific social media sites, for reasons unknown!). However, the kind of change that is often needed is of a far deeper kind.

As new generations show up to work with new expectations, and as the landscape of business is continually transformed by innovation, technology, and the rise and fall of corporate empires, we cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting good results. If we want to succeed, we need to empower our people. In order to empower our people, we have to be willing to allow the culture of our workplace to change. Or, even better, to spearhead the charge. It’s important, however, that this is not done in a way that tramples over people. Take note of point 5 on this list, and you will be in a far better position!

  1. Build a management team who share the vision (Spirit)

 The most important thing isn’t the method, it’s the mission. Most businesses spend weeks and weeks trying to establish whether someone has the right technical skills for the job, and then subsequently drilling deadlines and objectives into them, but they do not really delve very deeply into who they are as a person and whether they understand the “mission”. Not just the daily and weekly goals, but the actual mission of the organisation, whether that is to become pre-eminent in a field, to help one-million people, or anything in between. When everyone within a team, particularly a management or highly responsible team, is “on mission” and aligned with the ultimate aim, then things will start falling into place. The key is to place less emphasis on how they perform their tasks. Give them the mission statement, and then let them fulfil their objectives in their own way. So long as you are “singing from the same hymn book”, alignment and results will follow.

  1. Ensure your top people are top communicators (Star)

 Communication is key. This is a well-worn adage. However, it is so popular because it’s incredibly true. So many problems occur in the workplace (and indeed outside it!) due to poor communication, whether that is a goal or deadline that has not been clearly explained, a complex process that was glossed over in training, or, far more importantly, a major decision that is going to impact employees which has not been clarified by upper management. This also applies externally as well. When communicating with clients, customers, stakeholders, and investors, poor communication can be catastrophic. Therefore, when considering your appointments and promotions, be sure to pay close attention to whether you are making these appointments based on hard skills, or their abilities as communicators, and ask yourself which is truly more important. Who are your Star people, who shine radiantly when they have an audience?

  1. Train people in skills that are key to your business (Expert)

Whilst we have advocated strongly for what some people call “soft skills”, such as communication, make no mistake that it’s important to train your people! Especially the Experts who are vital to the running of your business, whether they are programmers, financial advisors, sales experts, marketers, or designers—whatever their unique skillset, develop it further! Experts often enjoy the acquisition of knowledge, and sometimes this is more valuable to them even than money! So, if you reward them for their efforts with further training, not only will their enhanced abilities serve the business’s aims, but it will also endear them to the company that feeds their hunger. Finally, there is another common idiom in business worth bearing in mind: “What if I train my people and then they leave?” The reply being, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

  1. Build trust with your people by listening to them (Friend)

Most businesses do not listen to their employees. They conduct surveys. They tick the boxes. But they do not actually sit down and really “hear” what they are being told. This normally means that, at some stage, disaster overtakes the company. To the “top brass”, it seems to happen suddenly and without warning. It comes as no surprise to the people on the ground, because they have been warning about it for some time!

In businesses / organisations where people feel listened to, and there are strong relationships between upper management and those “on the ground”, a sense of community and teamwork more easily evolves. Teamwork leads to communication. Communication means less blindspots and likelihood of error. It also means that the machine is oiled, running far more smoothly than if everyone is operating in a silo, or under the impression that management only take an interest in them when there’s a problem! The latter leads to secrecy which leads, needless to say, to big problems down the line. Learn to listen, and all of this can be averted.

  1. Fix things that don’t work (Defender)

 In many ways this connects to the previous suggestion. I have worked in many companies where the employees continually raised issues, such as: there was a software system that kept crashing, or a toilet that was broken, or a telephone that had some kind of crossed wire and didn’t feed calls properly. Yet, these very small problems were constantly ignored, because they were considered unimportant. Over time, they completely wore the staff down and, small though they were, led to many quitting!! “Management don’t care about me, they cannot even be bothered to fix a toilet, it’s a basic human comfort,” was the sentiment they were left with after working for these organisations. Small things matter. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

  1. Give your supervisors real power (Director)

 Some people enjoy responsibility. I am not one of them, as it happens! But because of the Motivational Maps, I understand that for some having responsibility over people, financial resources, or inventory is not a headache or a stressor, but a real pleasure. They feel energised by having control. If you have supervisors like this, who really relish the chance to take responsibility and properly manage their teams or resources, then the worst thing you can do is micromanage them and take away power from them. If you have hired someone to be a supervisor, presumably you trust them sufficiently to run the operational side of things. Let go, give them real power, and if they overstep the mark, at that point you can always rein them in. But often you will find they respect the authority they have been given, and simply wish to wield it to efficacious purpose. Not only does this free up time for you, but by empowering your supervisors, you will get the best possible work, commitment, and energy out of them.

  1. Give people the budget to go with responsibility (Builder)

Often, organisations ask people to achieve goals without the necessary resources, particularly finances, to support those endeavours. A simplified version of what I said in the introduction is that we have to spend money to make money. If you want your sales team to reach ten thousand new customers, but you are unwilling to reward them with a commission, or to hire enough salespeople to get the calls done, then it’s likely you will fail. If your sales team need to drive all over the country, but you’re unwilling to pay for their fuel, then you will see them only doing the bare minimum to save on costs, or quitting (if this example seems outlandish, note that I worked for a company that did exactly this!). We have to give people the budget and backing to do what they need to do. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail—another common but wise adage. When we don’t give people financial resources, we are not adequately preparing them.

  1. Make innovation a core part of everyone’s job (Creator)

Peter Drucker once observed that only two things actually made money for a business: marketing and innovation. Whilst not everyone is motivated by creativity in a big way—such as making new products or coming up with radical new ideas for the organisation—every person can play a small role in improving the company, by however a small a margin. If every person is looking to improve their own personal process, or perhaps one small element, then soon all these small improvements or micro-innovations add up to a big difference, whether in efficiency, customer-experience, or something else. However, people will not innovate, whether small-scale or large-scale, if they don’t feel that innovation is encouraged. How many businesses actively discourage their employees from contributing new ideas? (This comes back again to point number 5, and listening to what people have to say). It also connects to point number 7, and giving people real power and responsibility. If people feel they are in charge, that they can control their own destiny and work practices, rather than having it dictated to them by a micro-manager, then they are far more likely to begin to make proactive changes rather than waiting for the “official line” from on high. If every person in your company is innovating, then you are maximising human potential on a grand scale, and a new and brilliant idea could come from any corner.

I hope these nine suggestions for empowering your people gives you some actionable concepts to make your workplace more dynamic, more innovative, and most importantly: more motivated! To find out more about motivation and Motivational Maps contact one of our Motivational Map Practitioners

Leadership isn’t a fad...

Chess pieces

Today, we’re talking about leadership, and I’m going to start with something a little bit esoteric. The reason for this is I think it’s important to understand that leadership isn’t a fad, or a simply modern concern: human beings have always been concerned with leadership, and perhaps always will be!

We can see examples of this from many ancient texts from Gilgamesh to the Egyptian Pharoahs and through to the Greeks, from whom we get our word ‘strategy’. A ‘strategos’ in Greek was a military general or commander-in-chief– a leader! And in the Old Testament we have Moses. Before Moses emerges from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, the mountain itself is enveloped with lightning, cloud, and flame. The Israelites are stunned by this cataclysmic display of power and majesty. Then, Moses delivers the commandments from God.

One would think, given the potency of this supernatural occurrence, an entire mountain being wreathed in unnatural flames, lightning storms, cloud, and smoke, that the commandments would have impressed very deeply upon the Israelites and that they would have done God’s bidding to the letter. However, human nature is a fickle thing, and before long the Israelites are doing exactly what they have been forbidden from doing: worshipping a golden ox.

We are naturally attracted to that which glitters, aka gold! But whilst gold is very beautiful, it is only useful in very specific circumstances. This is the same in leadership. We may be drawn to charismatic “celebrity”-type personalities, we may wish to find a new guru to worship, but charisma does not always constitute brilliant leadership.

It seems that it is human nature—a deep part of us—to make gods out of all kinds of things, from the rather obvious money and status, to the subtler forms of idolatry, such as the way we elevate celebrities and personalities to godlike levels. We take a person who is perfectly human and fallible, and esteem that they can do no wrong. In Japan, they actively use the English word “idol” to describe their pop singers. This is why celebrity scandals seem to rock the world - whereas in fact, it should be highly predictable to all of us that those with power and money are often likely to use it, and not always for selfless aims. We are all human.

According to Gallup, “less than 2 in 10 employees agree that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization. Less than 2 in 10 employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization makes them feel enthusiastic about the future. Less than one quarter of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”[1] Despite the abundance of data and research over the last 60 years, there is clearly a leadership crisis on our hands! How can we fix it? Well, first, we have to examine the nature of the problem.

First, researchers often ask the wrong people about leadership. Rarely do they question staff about what they want in a leader. Instead, we keep interviewing the CEOs, CFOs, Directors, and other people largely disconnected from the “view on the ground” or the day-to-day mechanics of keeping a business alive and thriving.

Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, human nature has a tendency to be drawn, like moths to a flame, towards the bright, shining personalities we see on TV: actors, sportspeople, musicians, etc. Not to take away from their talent, but we have to question what these individuals can really tell us about the everyday leadership that will keep a business running, or a team of employees highly motivated. This is not to say we cannot pick up valuable insights from people such as Ernest Shackleton, the incredible explorer who brought back his team from the brink of icy death, football coach Jürgen Klopp, or gurus such as Brian Tracy. However, their situations are so different from most managers’ that we have to take the essence of what they’re saying and find relevant and practical ways to apply it.

A fourth and final problem is that these charismatic role models are almost exclusively male. Yet studies frequently rate female managers more highly than their male counterparts!

What we need is a leader who has a practical and diverse toolkit for motivating their teams. I have avoided using the word “inspire” because whilst I love the word—especially its root in the Greek which means, quite literally, to “breathe life into”—this word, to me, represents a more rare and cosmic level of “lightning strike” epiphany, not the energy and fuel that we need day-to-day! The Motivational Map ( ), of course, is one such tool. The 5 Elements (  is another. However, the important thing is that leaders are prepared to “tend their flock” day in and day out. They don’t believe that one heroic speech will see their people to the Promised Land. They understand – as Moses clearly did - that leadership is a daily practice, and sometimes arduous, beset with adversity both without and more importantly within. Having said that, let me be clear on one final point: becoming a great leader can also be one of the most rewarding things you could ever do!



Why Nine Motivators? What The Lord of the Rings has to tell us about Motivational Maps!


There is a common perception nowadays that movies or novels – fiction – is just light entertainment designed to distract us from the boring mundanity of everyday lives. But of course the ancients understood differently, that fictional narratives could contain great wisdom and understanding, with the greatest of them going on to become mythology – another level altogether! So, we often see wisdom cropping up in surprising places, even the Hollywood blockbuster. Having said that, it should be no surprise that Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, which is so richly steeped in mythology, has some interesting things to tell us about personal development and even motivation!

Before we look at this intriguing parallel, however, it is worth briefly examining the history of personality profiling, psychometric tests, and the boom of diagnostic tools that allow us to measure unseen aspects of the human psyche. We can see a surprising degree of variation in terms of (1) what people are looking for in a diagnostic, (2) the output of the diagnostic, (3) and whether the diagnostic reflects an unchangeable element, or something that does evolve and change over time. It’s clear the academically-minded prefer diagnostics such as Myers Briggs and the 4-Colours precisely because they measure aspects of the self that are fixed and cannot change; they are therefore “repeatable” under study conditions. Interestingly, both of these systems are based on the multiples of “4” (16 types of personality in the case of Myers Briggs, 4 in the case of Colours).

Maps, on the other hand, is based on 9 motivators, which correlate to the Enneagram and the wisdom of the ancient tradition. There are many further reasons for this difference. One is due to the fact that the Map is not a personality profile but rather self-perception inventory that measures the circa-80% of human nature that is experientially evolved, or, in other words, malleable. Our motivations shift over time. Not only that, but our motivation levels increase and decrease. Rather than putting people in a limited box and saying, “This is who you are” we say, “At this moment in time, these things are driving you and doing more of them will give you more energy.” Motivation is directly correlated with energy (for more information on this, it is worth reading Mapping Motivation

However, this doesn’t fully answer the question of “why 9 motivators?”. Why not 7, or 8, or 16? Why are there 9? There are many answers to the question, including some highly esoteric ones about the mystical properties of the number 9 itself, but a surprising and perhaps more helpful answer can be found in The Lords of the Rings!

If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, then you will probably have already put two and two together and worked out that there are 9 members of the Fellowship of the Ring, which are diametrically opposed to the 9 evil Ringwraiths. 9 is deemed the optimum number by the wise elven Lord Elrond to provide enough strength to fight off attackers, but also to pass unnoticed if need be. But deeper than this plot-driven reason, we see that the Fellowship is a perfectly balanced unit. Together, the Fellowship lacks nothing.

If we examine the Fellowship members, we will see that each of them resembles a motivational driver. Remember, we each have all nine motivators within us, but we tend to prioritise one or more (and can also have an aversion to some). However, we do need all nine, otherwise we begin to wilt energetically. We might view the motivators as nine energies that, when synergised, provide balance. The Fellowship exemplifies this.

  • We have Frodo, who represents the Searcher motivator – the desire to make a difference;
  • Samwise, who is the Friend motivator – who wants to belong and have meaningful connection;
  • Gandalf, the wizard, who is a Creator motivator – he desires change and to bring new things into the world (and note when we meet him he shows off his homemade fireworks);
  • Aragorn, the ranger, who is a Spirit motivator – he desires independence and freedom (ironically, his character arc is to move towards accepting more responsibility);
  • and speaking of responsibility, we have Director-motivator Merry, who is constantly giving orders “We have to fight”, who asks for the responsibility of serving King Theoden in battle, and ends up rallying the Ents for their last heroic march;
  • Pippin, on the other hand, is the Star – he wants to be the centre of attention, he wants recognition (and often does slapstick things in order to get it!);
  • Gimli, the dwarf warrior, is a Builder – he values material possessions which embody his progress (note how he asks the Lady Galadriel for a lock of her golden hair: the memory is not enough, he needs the physical talisman of the experience!);
  • Legolas is an Expert motivator, constantly giving advice: “A red sun rises: blood has been spilled this night” and “The elves began it [the process of waking up the trees]” – he wants to share his expertise;
  • And lastly we have Boromir, who is a Defender motivator, constantly concerned with the security of his nation and city, “We should strike out from a place of strength!”.

Of course, Tolkien died before the creation of Motivational Maps, and I do not believe he would have much interest in such a tool, but I do believe that he tapped into a universal truth about these nine energies, just as Motivational Maps has done in the process of extensively researching motivation. You may think I am reading too much into The Lord of the Rings, but note how the tensions that we often see in a workplace arising between certain motivators are reflected in the dynamics between the Fellowship members!

For example, Gandalf is eternally frustrated with Boromir, and the two argue on a regular basis. The Creator motivator (Gandalf) seeks change, but the Defender (Boromir) wants things to stay the same, and wants everything to be safe. This split priority creates conflict. Note as well that although Boromir is often viewed as the “bad one” or the runt of the litter, there are many instances where Boromir’s strength and ox-like stubbornness, derived from his grounded motivator, see the Fellowship through difficult scenarios (and of course, he heroically sacrifices himself at the end to save Merry and Pippin).

To view another example, Aragorn and Boromir are often at loggerheads. Aragorn’s Spirit, to be independent and free, clashes with Boromir who is constantly insisting that they do the logical and safe thing and return to the city of Minas Tirith. We also see tensions arise between Legolas and Aragorn in The Two Towers. Legolas, as an Expert, cannot see why Aragorn is allowing himself to be dragged into the battle of Helm’s Deep with such hopeless odds. He looks around at the warriors who have either “seen too many winters” or “too few” (i.e. they are too old or too young for true combat), and is disdainful. The Expert is a critical eye who can always see a better way to do something. Aragorn, however, recognises that there is no process or knowledge that can help them at this desperate stage, only action!

So, when you next do a Motivational Map, ask yourself: which member of the Fellowship am I most like! As stated before, the Maps are not prescriptive. We all have all nine motivators, but it might be that one or more of the motivators is leading the pack (in charge of the Fellowship) at a particular stage in your life. If you then consider that character’s wider arc and journey, it might surprise you what insight this can offer to help you in your current predicament!

My 3 Top Tips For Creating a Long Lasting Business

3 tips long lasting

I have been in business for over 25 years, and though I have much more to learn, and there are many things I might do differently now in hindsight, staying in business for that long is no mean feat. In fact, the usual statistics indicate that somewhere between 60-80% of all businesses go out of business within the first five years; and over the next five years, a similar number drop out. Anyone familiar with the Pareto principle will see that these numbers more or less accord with the 80/20 dynamic!

The question of longevity in business has become more pertinent than ever in our modern world, where the ever-shifting landscape of technology and culture make building our house on solid ground very difficult indeed. Many businesses who remained in the Forbes 500 for decades are now defunct. Many businesses that did not exist fifteen years ago have reached billion dollar evaluation. It remains to be seen whether the latter of these will also stay the course or burn out. Sometimes, it is indeed the tortoise that wins the race!

So, how can we ensure longevity? How can we make the 20% cut and go on for five, ten, fifteen, or even fifty years?

These are my top three tips for anyone who wants to start a business, be that with small resources (like myself as a sole trader, back in the ‘90s), or even with huge resources and backing.

What I am about to share with you was not, of course, obvious to me at the start back in 1995 when I gave up my job. It is also worth me mentioning that I am no longer a sole trader and currently run a very different type of business with Motivational Maps (and have done for the last 15 years). However, all of this experience is very relevant, and it is worth reflecting on what we can learn from the past, even if we have moved on. So, this is what I have learned – and happy is the person who can learn from others’ mistakes!

1) Avoid The Trap of Specialism

First, and probably foremost, it is vital not to fall into the trap that so many businesses, large and small (but especially small) fall into. We need specialism, but it can also be a deadly trap.

I started business life as a trainer, and I wanted to be the best. In fact, I specifically wanted to be in the top 20% a la the Pareto Principle. And beyond that, in the top 20% of the top 20%. In other words, I set myself a goal to be in the top 4% of trainers! A pretty ambitious feat. But based on what? Revenue? Size of Company? Number of employees? None of these were of interest to me. I wanted to be a superb trainer in a technical and efficacious sense, to get those shifts in people who attended my training; I wanted to become a top trainer on the basis of excellence.

I have received a lot of feedback from my training over the years, and I am fairly convinced that in this regard I did succeed in becoming an excellent trainer.

But this is the danger. Whether you are trainer, a plumber, an accountant, a tree surgeon, a lawyer, a web designer, or whatever, a service supplier has a tendency to focus on the technical quality and the execution of what they do. What we are good at, and our self-esteem, are locked into that activity. And this is not always conducive to running an effective business.

For a sort of proof, let’s ask this question: if Richard Branson were interested in setting up a plumbing business, what would he be most concerned about establishing first: the technical capability of staff? No, that would be a given that followed afterwards. The key question would be: what is the market for this type of service and how can we effectively access it?

So, my first business tip is get the strategy and marketing right to begin with. Remember that strategy and marketing go hand in glove: they need each other. Often, businesses conflate these two things, but they are distinct, and mastering them even at the early stages is crucial.

A final point to make about this is that when we start thinking about our market, we are shifting our attention away from what we’re doing to what our audience wants. To us, as experts and specialists, there may be nothing more exciting than the nitty gritty details of how motivation works. But is this of interest to our potential clients? By focusing on the market, marketing, and strategy we shift the focus onto the person we are looking to make a difference to, and away from ourselves, which is a vital step in developing a business and ensuring it lasts. If we keep giving people what they want, they’re likely to want us to stick around!

2) Energy > Expertise

Back in 1995, I have to confess my strategy was extremely weak, and my grasp of marketing was also defective. But sometimes you can succeed despite that if you can sell anyway. That I certainly could do and still can. And I am reminded of Brian Tracy’s wonderful dictum about selling: namely, “at least 50% of any sale is a transfer of enthusiasm.” How true! Enthusiasm and motivation are pretty synonymous – it’s about the energy you bring to work, you bring to your business, you bring to your clients and to the world. This energy is infectious and people want to be near it.

Thus, lacking a strategy and even a half decent marketing plan, you can still go a long way if you are enthusiastic and motivated. If you run a company with staff, then this is even more crucial, because your motivation impacts them, and this leads to ever higher levels of productivity and success.

Becoming motivated, then, is really essential and in any case has become the basis of my whole work. When I started, I had the quality of high energy but I did not consciously rate it as highly as technical excellence – now I know better! Energy, or motivation (I regard the two as virtually synonymous) is arguably the most important factor in business success. Highly motivated and energised people work harder because they love it, they are more creative, they are invested, and they can go the distance because the work isn’t grinding them down. This applies as much to us, and to those we employee or work with. If you aren’t motivated by what you do, then the chances of longevity are slim!

3) Don’t Go It Alone

Finally, my third top tip is one I have also learned the hard way. In 2006, I abandoned self-employment and set up the Motivational Maps Ltd business. Those who know Motivational Maps will also know that “Friend” is one of the nine motivators that drive human behaviour. For some people, it is a vital component of gaining satisfaction at work; for others, it is no big deal. I am in that latter camp. “Friend”, or the need to belong, is low on my motivational map, although I would describe myself as a friendly person.

What has emerged for me as core since setting up the Maps business is the importance of relationships: deep, consistent, sincere, powerful and compelling relationships. In fact, when relationships get to the compelling level we can use another word or words: allies and alliances – all based on true relationships.

This gets us away from what I would call commodity or transactional business and into transformational and value added business. Further, it becomes a filter. I now actively look to have deep relationships with every supplier, client and “friend” involved in my work; put another way, I don’t want to waste time with people I really don’t like and who at the end of the day are likely to cause me problems.

Ask yourself three simple questions about your suppliers, staff, and clients. One, do you know them? I mean, knowthem? Two, do you like them? And finally, do you trust them? If the answer is yes to all three, then you want them, in whatever capacity, in your business.

To sum up: work on that strategy and marketing plan, be motivated at all times, and surround yourself with people you know, like, and trust. There’s a good chance if you do these three things, then you will have a superb and long lasting business – and a lot of fun along the way!

If you would like to know more about Motivational Maps please visit or contact one of our practitioners directly - you can find a selection of them here.

Top 10 Tips For Motivating Your People


Due to the nature (and name!) of my business, people frequently ask me: what are the best things we can do to motivate staff?

I love being asked this question, because it’s an implicit acknowledgement that motivation is absolutely vital for a team, or indeed an organisation, to function at its highest potential. It is often sadly the case that leaders don’t want to invest in or put effort into motivation. They view salary alone as incentive enough for people to keep coming to work. This is a very 1960s view! In the 21st century, where there are such a diverse array of working options available to employees, saying nothing of self-employment too, and employees no longer feel the same kind of lifelong obligations to their employer, we have to recognise that we need to be motivating our people if we want them to stay, and more importantly still, if we want them to prosper.

What, then, are the best management tips for motivating others? I’m going to share with you my top 10 motivational tips. But before I do, it’s worth me drawing attention to one critical thing: these are not “big” things you do once a year. Many employers have the idea that motivation is about getting in a top speaker to rally the troops, or putting on a paintball day, or giving the walls of the office a new lick of paint, all of which are expensive one-offs which may be temporarily effective but ultimately wear off. Even worse, if they are not done genuinely, they will be seen as shallow attempts to avoid addressing the deeper issues within the organisation, to gloss over the true concerns of the employee with razzmatazz. Again, it is this old-fashioned attitude of encouraging the employees get blind and dangerously drunk at Christmas as a kind of psychic blow-out, when in fact they would not need to self-destruct if they were being looked after for the rest of the year.

So, these tips are daily tasks, minute-by-minute investments of your energy and focus. Because the real motivation happens in these small and regular moments. That is how one creates lasting and positive change.

1: Be motivated yourself! Motivation, like laughter, is infectious. When a leader is dynamic, high-energy, and motivated – and everyone can see that – it inspires others to be the same. One great leader, highly motivated, can have a disproportionate impact on everyone else. So, do that corny but effective ritual first thing in the morning: look in the mirror and say, I feel great, I am full of energy, I am the conqueror. Tell yourself with conviction, then go out and live the dream.

2: Look for members of your team doing things right, catch them, and praise them immediately. Note, when we say “doing things right”, we don’t just mean hitting big annual targets or doing their job correctly, we mean the little things, like picking up litter and putting it in the bin, or giving encouragement to a fellow employee. The immediate reward of praise is far more important than a few words once a year at an annual review.

3: Treat everybody with respect, which means – and this is a difficult lesson for some – listen a lot. One of the most common criticisms I see from employees is that their management is completely out of touch with the “situation on the ground”. And sometimes even further than that, it is said, “They don’t have any interest in us”. Sometimes, we don’t need a Motivational Map to know what is driving our employees, they are telling us very explicitly! 

4: Help your people learn. Increases in learning produce increases in self-esteem and performance. Too many organisations discouragement upward mobility for fear that they will either lose employees because they decide to move on, or that management’s own jobs become at-risk. The irony is that many people leave their jobs for precisely the opposite reason – they were not being developed enough!

5: Make everyone feel like they belong. Now, more than ever, this is mission critical. In organisations, large and small, it is very easy for cabals, cliques, and inner circles to form, especially when, in the west, we tend to devolve the company into departmental silos. Everyone should feel they are on the same team, working towards the same aim. Whilst hopefully it is obvious that this also means welcoming people whatever their gender, ethnicity, race, culture, or age, there far subtler distinctions which are perhaps equally important, such as those who have been with the company a long time versus newcomers, those in managerial roles versus those in administrative ones, those on higher salaries versus lower salaries, etc, etc.

6: Stop micro-managing with central directives. Barring immoral or dubious conduct, it doesn’t matter that much how people get the job done; the important thing is whether they achieve the goal. Give your people more control, allow them to do things their way, and you will see a massive uptick in productivity and happiness.

7: Acknowledge their ideas publicly where possible. Too often we see that employees feel their contribution is lost in the relentless forward motion of organisational activities, their contributions reduced to a bullet point in an internal newsletter, an unattributed statistic of success. Reward achievement with recognition. Sometimes one-to-one is enough (indeed, for some people this is preferable to a big song and dance), but sometimes a more public recognition of achievement is what the doctor ordered.

8: Give them a challenge. For some people, winning a contract is not enough, they are capable of more; so add the ‘more’ in some way, and talk as if you know they can do it.

9: Say thank you, and make strong eye contact when you do.

10: Try to understand their motivations and feed them. Review the above suggestions and work out which ones suit which individuals. Treat each employee personally, however difficult that may seem. Remember that Motivational Maps can be tremendous asset in this space!

With the above suggestions in your armoury, you can go some way to motivating your people without even needing a tool! Remember, the “kaizen” method of small and regular steps is the path to success here. In the words of author Grady Hendrix, “How does a sparrow destroy a mountain? One pebble at a time.”

Self-Awareness, Success and Getting There

Growing plant

As we come out of Covid-19 lockdowns and all that has entailed over the last year and half nearly, it is surely time, if we haven’t already done so, to review where we are as individuals. I notice a surge of articles discussing important issues like resilience, flexibility, neuro-agility and such-like, and this is good; but the question I would ask is – why do we want these ‘things’? They are, in fact, components – elements if you will – of a bigger picture: the one word that defines this bigger picture might be ‘well-being’. I like the word but my problem with it is that it has too many connotations of ‘health’ rather than what I am meaning by the bigger picture. What I suggest everyone really wants, at either a conscious or sub-conscious level, is success: when we have resilience, flexibility, neuro-agility, well-being and other qualities or skills we have taken a huge step forward to being ‘successful’.

Now what being successful means is going to vary from person to person because people have different values and motivators. That said, and given that some people prefer to fail rather than realise their potential, there are 7 key strands that make the rope of success tight and strong. A weakness in any one area can undermine the whole enterprise of your life, and some of the strands are intimately connected with others. The cumulative effect of being strong in all 7 areas is to make you virtually unstoppable. What are they, then? Take a look, and as I outline them, give yourself a score out of 10 – ten being have it fully, and 1 being not at all.

  1. Self-esteem. To know whether you have strong self-esteem consider the following:

Do you sleep well? Do you feel sufficient for most situations you find yourself in? Do you believe in yourself? Do feel that things are going to work out well for you? Can you say what you feel directly? Can you say no? Do you express yourself?

  1. Energy. Are you in good physical and mental health? So, how much energy and zest

 do you have on a day-by-day basis? Without energy – motivation – little will get done.

  1. Quality Relationships. Do you have a substantial network of long-term

genuinely loving and caring relationships? These truly do make life worthwhile.

  1. Wealth. Do you have enough money set aside to stop worrying about money? This

increases your options for what you can do. Remember Abraham Lincoln’s observation that the best way to help the poor is not to become one of them.

  1. Meaning. Do you have a purpose in life? Do you have worthy goals and ideals?
  1. Growth. Are you becoming all you might be? Are you realising your full potential in

life? Nobody on their death bed says, I wish I’d spent more time in the office.

  1. Self-Awareness. This is your reality check. Do you seek to learn about yourself –

through self-analysis and by scrutinising the feedback from others?

Notice the final component is self-awareness: this is absolutely necessary as the guarantor of the other 6 components; another way of putting this is that it is the starting point. And the good news is: this mini-test is a way of becoming self-aware (and so is completing a Motivational Map!) So, if you have fairly given yourself a score out of 10 for each of these components, then to calculate where you are, do the following: multiply the first item, Self-esteem, by 3 so that it is a score out of 30. This is because it is the single most important item. Second, multiple the second item, Energy, by 2 so it is a score out of 20 (for more on reasons why this is the case, read chapter 2 of my book (with Bevis Moynan), Mapping Motivation for Coaching, Routledge, 2018). Then, tally all the scores: which will give a percentage total (30+20+10+10+10+10+10).

A rough guide to scoring would be that yours is in one of four quadrants:

80+ - you are on course for a successful life

                        60-79 – you have many elements in place, tweaking needed

                        35-59 – some big changes needed to get what you want

                        10-34 – you are very unhappy – resolve to change now!

Keep in mind these scores are not an absolute law. But we have found with hundreds of clients that the four quadrants of scoring do give a pretty accurate picture. This is especially true where the client, perhaps, has scored big in one area – say, wealth – and may be a millionaire, BUT – are they successful? Their relationships may have failed, they cannot relax, and their health may be poor; or to put it as GK Chesterton did: “The typical modern man is the insane millionaire, who has drudged to get money, and then finds he cannot enjoy even money, but only drudgery”. This cannot be construed as success in life, for apart from the lack of true meaning, there is an underlying unhappiness. The same excess in one or two other elements equally can cause imbalance elsewhere.

When you have done this, take some time to look at your scores. Here are some rough guidelines: scores above 8 are excellent; 6-8 are good; 3-5 are poor; 1-2 is a major challenge. Also note, whether there is one area especially that is low and problematic. If so, this is what is sometimes called the ‘Choke Point’ – the point which is preventing achievement in your other areas or overall. To take a simple example, if all your scores are 9 or 10 but your health is a 2/10, then eventually your health condition will impede your otherwise excellent progress.

One key factor for development, then, might be: take your lowest score and use this as the basis of a development plan that takes at least 18 months to complete! (If you have equal low scores, intuitively choose the one you feel is your biggest issue). It is a mistake – usually – to think that one can change one’s life overnight. Even the profoundest insights and mental shifts require time to be practiced and embedded. Oftentimes, slow and easy, the tortoise, wins the race.

As we come out of lockdown, perhaps being a tortoise is not so bad – as we surely but firmly readjust to a new reality. Of course, a great coach can help you accelerate this process and I strongly recommend, if this interests you, that you find one who is Motivational Maps accredited, for my view is that these coaches are best equipped to understand the energy question and its contribution to your ongoing success in this time of turmoil. Here, then, is to your success over the next 5 years: make it happen!

Reminding Clients...

Memory maze

I was reflecting recently on an experience I had some years ago with a client, and I realise that this experience is one that many of the coaches, consultants and trainers I know who work with their clients may also have had.

I had been working for eighteen months within this company, for a minimum of two days a month (with extra training sessions), essentially motivationally mapping each team in turn and then working as a coach with the team leader and then the team members themselves. It all seemed to me to be going swimmingly well, but one day, eighteen months into the programme – the CEO came in, was a little brusque with me, and when I asked why, replied that she was fed-up and things didn’t seem to be working out. A bad day in paradise, then? We all get them.  I realised, of course, it was not as simple as that. For one thing, whenever you have the ear and the confidence of a leader, politics kicks in and some subordinates don’t like it – and start briefing against you. Subtly, perhaps, but there it is; and so I knew I had to do something radical, immediate, if I were going to keep this contract.

What did I do? Well, for a start I also realised that even without being briefed against, there was a substantive danger anyway from what I call the Kanter Effect. Rosabeth Moss Kanter was a Harvard University business professor and author and she said: 'Everything looks like failure in the middle. In nearly every change project doubt is cast on the original vision because problems are mounting and the end is nowhere in sight'. ‘Everything looks like failure in the middle’ – whatever we are doing; in the middle we haven’t achieved our goal and will we ever? There is a tendency to give up and seek easier goals. Hence the need, as Dr Johnson observed over two centuries ago, for perseverance: ‘Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.’ And perseverance comes from determination, which as Abraham Lincoln noted: ‘Always bear in mind that your own determination to succeed is more important than any other one thing.’

Immediately I got home from my day at the company, I started work on the counter-offensive. Clearly, what I had achieved (with them) in eighteen months had been completely lost sight of by the CEO. Thus, I began to compile what I called the ‘Outstanding Outcomes’ list for her inspection. I identified 23 specific outcomes that were highly significant for the company, listed them, and sent them off in an email to the CEO. The heading was: 23 Outstanding Outcomes of Maps for ABC in 18 Months. The effect? Let me tell you after I list what the first 12 of the 23 outcomes were.

  1. CEO’s position and reputation at board level enhanced; pay substantially increased
  2. CEO’s recruitment skills enhanced through using Motivational Map technology – two senior positions filled, including successful appointment of her deputy
  3. CEO’s more effective time management, particularly more effective use of PA
  4. Work with PA to help her extend her range of capabilities for CEO
  5. CEO led to partake of an Institute of Directors’ Finance for non-specialists’ course, and so strengthen her understanding in this area, which she felt a weakness
  6. Introduce ‘Thinking Hats’ methodology to CEO and use with senior team to create a raft of new and positive ideas for company
  7. Help CEO and senior team refine and develop a new Vision and Mission Statements, especially including the role, importance and motivation of staff
  8. Overall motivational improvement for company; using Motivational Maps, score up across the whole company by 5.3% alongside a shift from ‘Defender’ to Searcher orientation – in other words, a more change pro-active staff, so less resistance to changes
  9. Work with deputy CEO (via her induction) on training programme for sales/customer care and introduce 3 new trainers to support developments
  10. Significant improvement in sales figures after coaching of head of sales
  11. Early warning system of staff problems or need to resolve staff problems: by querying a key senior manager’s 22% drop in Motivational Maps’ score which led to resolving a problem he had that would otherwise have been undetectable, and so led to his staying and not leaving the company; problems with one support team also identified and corrected
  12. Develop managers and team leaders use of various communication skills – ‘5 stage positive feedback process’ – to staff producing much improved relationship between managers and staff

I have avoided listing all 23 items because a. that might be tedious and b. because the last 11 items are very specific to members of staff rather than just the senior leadership and the bigger picture; but they are important – and they include, on the one hand, empowering and enabling one member of staff specifically with public speaking skills and, on the other, enabling the CEO to be sure that another member of staff needs to be relinquished because they simply will never fit.

The CEO didn’t reply to my email but I was in later that week anyway. So I walked into her office and said – her head was down and locked into a computer screen – ‘Did you get my email?’ She looked up – a kind of glazed expression came over her face.

‘What was I thinking?’ she said, and then grinned. I remained in the company working in exactly the same way for another 30 months (so 4 years in total), and left when the company was successfully bought out and new people – ‘who knew not me’ – took over. Pointing out what one has done – or helped them do – in a very direct and unequivocal fashion, certainly paid dividends for me. I really enjoyed my time there, and here’s the final kicker.

I myself was as surprised as the CEO was when push came to shove and the achievements were all listed there. When I’d gone home that night I’d felt short-changed, felt that my achievements and support had not been properly acknowledged, but it wasn’t until I actually came to go through my notes and files that I began to realise the extent of what I had helped the company do. I suspect that this is true of many coaches and consultant: we are so busy getting on with the next project that it is easy to lose sight of the chain of ones we have already accomplished. And, of course, this is so true of most coaches and consultants when we consider that their Motivational Maps’ profile tends to be Growth orientated: in other words, their motivators have a future orientation, certainly not a past one! Sometimes we go too far in the future and forget all about that fabulous past work that we really must let our clients know about. Does this apply to you?

James Sale’s latest book from Routledge is Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams

Expectation and Motivation


In this series of 4 articles, we’ve studied what the three elements of motivation are. In Part 2, we reviewed the element of personality. We established that it was relatively fixed, but since it only contributed somewhere between 20-30% of the motivational mix, then motivation itself was more fluid, more changeable than personality alone could account for. Also, we said that because personality was more or less innate, it had a ‘past’ perspective: it was a component of our motivation which came from our origins as a person as it were.

Then we looked at the second element of motivation, the self-concept, and we established that it was quite unlike our personality in that the latter tended to be fixed and stable over time, whereas our self-concept was more fluid and variable; indeed, we observed that our view of our Self depended on our beliefs, and these could change. Which meant our self-concept changed over time. The self-concept acted in the present tense, and was essentially determined by our beliefs about our Self.

Finally, then, we reach the third and final element of the motivation mix. And this is what we call our expectations. What are these? Our expectations are our beliefs about future outcomes – what we ‘expect’ to happen in fact. We base much of our life on expectations, though we don’t always think about it. But, for example, if we take a job we expect – our expectation is – to be paid in a timely and pre-agreed way. And if we think about it, if were not paid, we would find that extremely de-motivating. Equally, then, we are motivated to do things – more motivated to do things – when our expectation is that good outcomes will occur, for these are pleasing and satisfying to us. And it should be obvious that if personality has a ‘past’ dimension, the self-concept a ‘present’ orientation, then expectations most definitely relate to the future tense.

Before exploring this further, let us contrast our two variable elements of self-concept and expectations to get a sense of the difference and the similarity. If the expectations are our beliefs about future outcomes, then the self-concept, especially the self-image combined with the self-esteem, is our belief about our Self. Expectations, then, are beliefs mainly about results in the external world, whereas the self-image/esteem is a belief about our internal world, our Self. In essence, respectively, expectations and the self-image/esteem are beliefs directed outwardly and inwardly; beliefs affect our ‘given’ personality, and the beliefs determine all the outcomes of our life.

I think it is probably true that more people are inclined to develop (or not) their motivation via expectations rather than through developing their self-concept, although neither is a water-tight compartment. The reason for this is obvious: once our attention is drawn to it our beliefs about future outcomes seem much more clearly linked to our energy than what we may believe about our 'self', which might be considered wishy-washy or somewhat nebulous. (Of course nothing could actually be further from the truth).

So, for example, if we had the opportunity to apply for a very prestigious and well paid job, or to go on a date with an extremely attractive person, or to embark upon training for a major qualification, and we believed that the outcome of the job application, the date request, the likelihood of gaining the qualification was zero, how motivated would we be to start moving towards those desirable end results? Hardly at all for most people, and there would be every probability that we wouldn't even try.

At its extreme this opposite of positive expectation is called 'learned helplessness’ whereby the person expects nothing to turn out well, has no inclination to take control of their own life or to initiate action, and finally becomes co-dependent on others and/or entities (e.g. the State) in order to 'get by'. For these reasons even marketing clichés now advise: 'just do it', or 'can do', as a corrective to the lack of 'success' expectations.

As we have said, by its very nature expectation has a future orientation: in essence expectations are beliefs about the future. So, the dynamics of motivation in the psyche are past-present-future orientated. The native root or base is our personality, but how we see our Self, or what we believe about our Self interacts with the first root, as does our belief about future happenings and events. This, then, is a very dynamic model – any tool that could describe and measure motivation could only do so for an instant in time, because beliefs and so motivations will change over time. That said, of course, our core beliefs can be deeply entrenched and it is also possible for our motivational profile to stay stable over long periods.

To make this practical, consider this: We all have expectations for the future, negative or positive. What are your expectations for your future? Do you expect things to turn out well or badly for you? Consider your expectations in the three main areas of




Over the next three months or three years or thirty years ask yourself –

How will my relationships (R) turn out? Think family and friends and others

How will my career (A or Achievement) turn out? Think work and income and success

How will my personal development (G for Growth) progress? Think learning and qualifications and expertise

How do you think things will turn out for you? What beliefs do you think might cause you problems? What are you going to do about them?

Thus, the importance of expectations should be clear from this brief examination of what it really means. For more on unblocking false beliefs I strongly recommend you read chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Mapping Motivation for Coaching (James Sale and Bevis Moynan).

And also Mapping Motivation, chapter 2 (Mapping Motivation: Routledge 2016) provides much more on all three elements of motivation.

Finally, for more on success with teams, also see the latest booking the series, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams.

Can how we see ourselves have an influence on what motivates us?

Frog reflection

We’ve been looking at what the three elements of motivation are. In Part 2 of this series, we considered the element of personality. We established that it was relatively fixed, but since it only contributed somewhere between 20-30% of the motivational mix, then motivation itself was more fluid, more changeable than personality alone could account for. Also, we said that because personality was more or less innate, it had a ‘past’ perspective: it was a component of our motivation which came from our origins as a person as it were.

Now we need to go forward to the present time, and here we find the element of the self-concept. Essentially, how we see ourselves has an inordinate influence on what motivates us. The self-concept is how we see and feel about ourselves; ultimately, what we believe about ourselves and who we are. The importance of beliefs cannot be overstated, for in its watered down version, as Henry Ford commented: ‘if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’! In other words, thoughts and beliefs are often self-fulfilling prophecies: our own beliefs determine what will happen to us. Furthermore, they profoundly affect our motivations. The mere fact of believing one is an effective and efficacious human being means that one is far more likely to be energised at waking – that is, motivated – than if one thinks, ‘What’s the point? I never succeed’.

The famous psychologist Carl Rogers suggested that the self-concept had itself three distinct and distinctive components. They are the self-image, the self-esteem and the ideal self. You will notice that the three components also tend to have a primary tense within which they operate: the ideal self (who we want to be) is future orientated, the self-image (how we see our self now) is present tense, and the self-esteem (how much you like yourself) is past because it builds on all the feelings we have about our self. This does not detract from the central point I am making, for as I said about all three elements, they interact; and so within the self-concept there is a constant intermingling of the three components, and so change is possible. But what is critical here is understanding our self-image, or our view of ourselves at the critical moment we call ‘now’!

In my book, Mapping Motivation, chapter 2 (Mapping Motivation: Routledge 2016) I provide a number of examples of poor self-images which demotivate and drain us.

Figure 1: Poor Self-Images

Poor Self-Image

If we look at this cross-section of poor self-images we may notice two things. The first is that we probably know somebody, or knew somebody in the past, for whom the descriptor is particularly apt. Second, that when we think about it, such self-images must be de-motivating, not only on others, but on ourselves, because they require so much energy to maintain. Putting on a mask, albeit one we desire, necessitates we hold it up and wear it at all times; we are no longer operating from our natural or true self and this depletes us. Indeed, it hardens us – we ossify in some curious way that ultimately blocks our vital impulses, and these of course are responsible for our joie de vivre; for the satisfaction of deep motivators leads to joy, but if we have a false self-image we must, by definition, be attempting to satisfy motivators we don’t actually have! What could be more pointless? And yet, sadly, which is common practice.

Perhaps, looking at the list, we see some of the traits are more social – for example, ‘first to the bar’ – and others are highly prevalent in organisational contexts – for example, perfectionism. Keep in mind that every false self-image has a ‘pay-off’, that is, a purpose or gratification that the individual seeks to obtain. Perfectionism may have several: the false self-image that ‘I don’t or mustn’t make mistakes’, or ‘I have absolute standards’, or even ‘I work harder than anybody else’. These clearly are beliefs which are forming – or skewing - part of the core self-image and so affecting their motivational profile.

If we think about it, ‘dilute’ would perhaps be the best word for the effect of these false beliefs: for what is the motivator for desiring not to make a mistake? Expert – knowledge? Searcher – making a difference through unremitting accuracy? It certainly cannot be Creator, for all creativity involves mistakes along the way. Defender, then – double-checking that everything is ‘right’? Clearly, the belief in the false self-image isn’t a real motivator at all, and neither does it feed a motivator. It is like a parasite feeding off the central nervous system; and will certainly lead the perfectionist to burn-out, exhaustion, and possible collapse as the weight of the impossible gradually increases to breaking point.

For more on success with teams, also see my book, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams (Routledge).

Becoming a Deep Expert

Jetty perspective out to sea

You may remember in the previous article we established that three elements contribute to that force or energy which we call motivation. The three primary sources of motivation are our:




Together they are like rivers which flow within us, and they stream into the turbulent sea or ocean of our fluctuating motivations. But unlike rivers, which are separate, they all interact with each other, and with the final outcome - our specific motivations in a given moment or period of time - continuously and continually.

We realise as we consider each one of these elements of motivation that as coaches we can zone in on any one or all of them in dealing with a client. Take 'personality'. We are all familiar with the concept of our Personality. In some ways it appears to be us; after all, it is our PERSON-ality? There are various instruments – personality and psychometric tests – that measure ‘personality’, either our traits or types, or specifically the predictive behaviours which emerge from these traits or types. ‘It’ – the personality - appears to be relatively stable; personality can shift under pressure, but there seems to be a norm to which it reverts and wants to revert. In that sense, then, it appears to be a ‘given’; our personality seems to be largely fixed and ordered at birth.

I refer to this (in my book, Mapping Motivation (Routledge 2016) as ‘past’ tense: it goes back to our origin. That said, the fact the personality experts themselves consider increasingly that personality is malleable (that, indeed, that a person may appear to be very different at one some future point in their life from what they were as, say, a younger person or as a pre-the-trauma person) only demonstrates the complexity of the human psyche and the fact that the self-concept and the expectations of an individual can, if prolonged or intense enough, have a profound effect on the personality.

Picture 1Figure 1

For more information on the various models of personality, read my book Mapping Motivation; but for now I’d like to make a personal observation about personality. Most basic models seem to predicate 4 types of personality. See figure 1. Sometimes these are colour coded: Leader -Red, Influencer – Yellow, Connector – Green, and  Planner -Blue. Indeed, looking at this you might ask yourself, what type/colour most seems like me?

The point is that I am certainly a Yellow or Influencer type – by nature, or by my natural inclination, or as I was growing up as a kid. But doing a Motivational Map today, the motivator ‘recognition’, or what we call The Star, is not even in my top 6. Something has changed or overlaid my primary drive or hunger. It may be that under severe stress or circumstances I might revert to recognition as a driver – motivator – but that would be an exceptional circumstance.

So I think two points interesting issues arise from this. One, people selling personality and psychometric tools on the basis that they reveal your motivators are selling really a pig in a poke! It is true that if someone had no learning and no experiences in life, or conversely had an early age been deeply traumatised, then their personality profile might not shift; and so the consequence would be that their personality motivator would align with their personality: so, for example, all Red or Leader types would have Control (what we call The Director) as their dominant motivator. But this, of course, is highly unlikely and obviously a rare phenomenon, if one could believe it happened at all!

No: people learn, people have trivial and profound experiences, and as they do so they try to make sense of the world. Eventually, in making sense every individual comes to believe certain things in two key domains that affect everything: they develop beliefs about themselves (which we short-hand as their Self-Concept) and they develop beliefs about outcomes in their environment (which we short-hand as their Expectations). As these beliefs intensify they provide either an enabling and dynamic energy that we call motivation; or they do the reverse and shut us down, and drain our energy. We need to remember that whatever we focus on as individuals grows in our experience and in our reality. Beliefs will always manifest themselves in the material world, for good and for ill.

In the third Part of this series we’ll take a more in-depth look at the Self-Concept and what this means for our motivators, and how we need to take more conscious control of it if we are to stay highly motivated – and one might add, stay or achieve greater success.

For more on success with teams, also see my book, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams (Routledge).

How do - Personality, Self-Concept and Expectations – contribute to motivation?

Chapter 2 Figure 5 Three Sources of Motivation

I recently joined a webinar run by a leading Motivational Mapper which was designed to study one chapter a month of my book, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams. Naturally, it was great to find so many people wanting me to provide more levels of expertise on the book I have written, and of course if coaches, trainers and consultants aren’t desirous of deeper levels of knowledge and skill, what chance is there for other people? We who work in this consultancy/coaching field must constantly be striving to go further in what our capabilities can offer the client, which means going beyond some of the superficial memes and jargons that pass for wisdom on social media.

One specific question I was asked I’d like to share with you now. It related to Figure 2.5 in the book, which is the image heading this article. The question centred around how the three concepts in the image – Personality, Self-Concept and Expectations – contributed to motivation. Before answering that question directly (and there is more on it in Mapping Motivation chapter 2) I suggested we need to take a step back.

Motivational Maps Ltd sounds like a company that ‘sells’ motivation; but it doesn’t, at least most of the time. Motivation is, in the sales lingo, not a benefit but a feature. Time and again we find that whilst managers want motivation, to pay for it seems a luxury; no, what they want is the benefit of motivation. So what we sell – in ‘wrapping the mapping’ – is the benefit, which is Performance. Sometimes even that benefit is not enough: we need the benefit of the benefit! And that is Productivity. High performance levels lead to high levels of productivity, unless either the leadership or the strategy is pretty useless, and so all efforts are misdirected. And lo! The third P – that is, the benefit of the benefit of the benefit, one that can totally preoccupy managers and bosses – is higher productivity leads to increased Profits. Voila!

That’s, then, at the end of the chain. But if we come back to the process whereby the coach, consultant or trainer is working with the organisation, we are working with teams and individuals, and when we come to individuals sometimes we need to break down concepts into smaller units so that we can see the object for what it really is, and so administer the appropriate tonic that is going to nurture, sustain and develop the individual and the organisation.

I liken this process to thinking about matter. What is matter? Well, it’s made up of molecules in a certain configuration (think Performance). But what are molecules? They are made are made up of specific atoms (think Motivation and the 9 ‘atoms’ that populate this universe). Finally, what are atoms? These are made up from three major ingredients, namely, protons, neutrons and electrons (think Personality, the Self-Concept and Expectations). In other words, we can go right back to points more primary in understanding how motivation works and can be influenced.

Now somebody might say: ‘But what are protons, neutrons and electrons made up of?’ They might, but my response is that this is going too far, getting into an area outside the domain of what we can deal with in managerial situations. For all practical purposes, therefore, we have reached the basic units that can help us with people, work with change, and get results.

Thus, by way of detour, we come to the question itself. And this is the fascinating thing about it: there are three elements that comprise our motivations, and one is largely fixed – our personality – but the other two are malleable and changeable, and represent a fabulous opportunity to reframe poor performance, lack of success and underachievement. And of course, these elements of personality, the self-concept and expectations are ideal aspects of the Self not only for coaches to investigate with their clients, but also mentors, counsellors, psychotherapists and those generally interested in this subjective space where our real sense of being resides.

In Part 2 of this article I shall explore this in more detail.



Team book image
We have talked about, in the preceding two blogs, the big mistake that most organisations make in people development, which is their top-down approach; an approach they often are completely unaware of. Like some unconscious bias, they fail to see that how they treat their employees – the process - is profoundly de-motivating and un-engaging. What we proposed was the use of Motivational Maps which can only effectively be used in a bottom-up way; they are constructed as a bottom-up tool! It is true – as with any tool – ignorant, careless or simply bad workers can misuse, misapply or blunt the power of even the best tool, but since it is designed the way it is, the chances of achieving an effective result are much enhanced.

Thus, we come to the final article in this sequence of three, and it seems appropriate here to take a look at just one activity from Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams to demonstrate what is possible. Before doing so, it might be useful to remind people that the book contains 69 activities and some 84 figure illustrations to help the reader clearly understand how to go about creating a ‘top performing team’. This is a lot of practical material; and remember, a central reason why we want a top performing team is to address – which we considered in blog 1 – the issue of lack of productivity. Creating top performing teams is probably the number 1 way to address this issue.

A really great tool – and an intrinsic component of our Motivational Organisational Map - to use with any team to get a baseline as to where we are, and a strong sense of what some of the issues might be is the Measuring Team PMV Scores which occur in chapter 5 of the book. This is going to take some unpacking, but we think the effort is worth it, since like the Map itself it provides so much rich information.

What, then, is the PMV Score and why is this so important for top performing teams, and as a tool for management to develop top performing teams? The first thing to mention almost by way of passing is that the Motivational Map is a self-perception inventory tool; in other words, that in completing a map one is comparing oneself with oneself; that is to say, not with another individual or against a standard. So, self-assessment or self-rating is something that Maps like. In a different way, the PMV score is another kind of self-rating.

We think, for all its obvious subjectivity, that self-rating tends to be accurate except mainly when two unfortunate situations appertain. So, self-rating can be inaccurate and misleading when either the self-rater is in a state of fear; for example, they are afraid of what their manager might think of the result; or, the reverse, they suffer from a sort of false modesty, and a false belief that no one can be a 10/10 because ‘there is always room for improvement’ syndrome. In the former case, the self-rater will tend to over-score themselves: in the Maps we see this when we find, for example, PMA scores of 10 for all 9 motivators – what chance is it that anybody could really be 10/10 for all 9 motivators, including their lowest? Here is someone wishing to appear ‘motivated’ to their manager and not taking any chances as to what their scoring might be. Of course, the false result betrays itself and provides an opportunity for a deeper look at the intrinsic issue within the team.

The latter situation tends to lead to underscoring: the individual does not give themselves enough credit for that they have done, or even how they feel. This is more difficult to detect immediately as an erroneous result, but from a management perspective in building a team, it is more desirable than the first situation: because it is much easier to build someone up when it is apparent that they are performing at a higher level than they think, than it is to uncover and deal with the deception. In Map terms we tend to find that those operating with an ‘always room for improvement’ mentality are more frequently encountered at the operational level, whereas the afraid of what the manager thinks is more at the middle management level – those aspiring to get to senior levels, and for whom their bosses’ good opinion is vital.

However, these two exceptions are not the norm - though we need to be aware of them, so that we not accept any results uncritically – when we look at the PMV process. Remember: perfection is the enemy of progress – we are not looking for perfect results, but useful ones on which we can take practical action steps. As they say in NLP, the map is not the territory, which means that all models are imprecise in some way; what we have with the PMV scores is a model that is highly useful.

The starting point for considering PMV scores is to take all or some of the teams within an organisation and compare them, based along 4 key elements of their existence. The whole team is invited to score the team to establish the initial results. Figure 1 shows 6 teams, starting with the Board of the organisation, considered as a team itself, down to the Operations team. We can fine-tune this analysis by either removing or adding teams as we or management see fit.

PMV* scoring is for each team in each category out of 10, where 10 is outstanding and 1 is very poor.

Figure 1 Chapter 5 figure aThe first score in the Motivation column is the score from the Team Motivational Map. This will be a percentage score which for the purposes of comparison with the other PMV scores we can turn into a score out of 10, either rounding up or down according to the normal arithmetical rules: so 76% would become 7.6 or 8 out of 10, whereas 75% would be 7.5 or 7.

Before, then, looking at best methods to generate meaningful data here, let’s consider the heading of the columns, and what they mean and might reveal to us.

Most obviously – and as the foundation as it were – we want to know is the team motivated, and at what level? We then have the PMV criteria. These are: How Productive (P) is this Team? How easy to Manage (M) is this Team? And how much does this Team contribute to Organisational values (V)?

First, productivity. In the normal course of events, productivity and motivation should go hand in hand. That is, highly motivated staff should be highly productive. Alternatively, if your staff are poorly motivated and productivity is not high, then that should come as no surprise either. We talk of Reward Strategies (see chapter 2 of the book for more on this) to motivate employees and teams in order to increase productivity. But what if motivation is high but productivity is low, or productivity is high and motivation is low? These would be counterintuitive results but not entirely unusual. It is possible for staff to be productive but not motivated – at least, for a while. In these situations, one needs to investigate the causes carefully. Some possible reasons for high motivation and low productivity are: lack of skills or knowledge, implementation problems not anticipated, absence of appropriate leadership, flawed strategies, system failures, poor communications and inadequate planning. Some possible reasons for low motivation and high productivity are: insufficient involvement of those affected, fear, economic or cultural climate, focus on things and not people, over-competitiveness. Whilst the latter problem seems less problematic than the former, high productivity in the long run is not sustainable with a demotivated workforce; for one thing, staff leave as soon as that option becomes tenable. The question, then, is how productive are your team? We know how motivated they are.

Second, manageability. This is a word we like to use to describe the process of running, or managing or leading, a team; the key word here is ‘process’. How easy a team is to manage is also an important issue to consider when dealing with them and considering their value to the organisation. Ever had a customer who spends money with you, but is hellishly difficult to service?

Staff, and teams, can be just like that difficult customer, and sometimes we have to ask whether the value of the team outweighs the problems they may cause. To take two examples at different ends of the motivational spectrum: The Spirit team may be persistently difficult to manage at all; whereas the Friend may be too dependent on direction and coaxing. The key thing is the fit of the team leader and their style of leadership with the team profile. Thus a team’s motivation needs to be considered alongside their manageability: if they are highly motivated but not easily manageable, then why is that? Do the motivators themselves tell us anything? Conversely, if motivation is low but they are easily manageable what is that saying? Probably, that they are marking time and not optimising performance (so time to compare the productivity too). And again, if they are poorly motivated and not easily manageable, that makes sense – but what to do about it? What, then, does contrasting manageability against productivity reveal?

Finally, the contribution to organisational values of a team, whilst a core contribution, is not so obvious a factor as productivity or manageability. For a start, it requires all employees in their respective teams to be aware of what the organisational values are, as well as living and working by them; also, for senior executives to make this of first-order important, and to reward it accordingly.

Typically values need to be turned into behaviours; so to give a familiar example of an organisational value that is core: Honesty, which means being open and honest in all our dealings and maintaining the highest integrity at all times. As a behaviour this may become: all concerns are aired constructively with solutions offered, and each person is as skilled in some way as another and is entitled to express their views without interruption. These two behaviours are ‘honesty’ manifested in behaviours towards employees; but equally, we may – indeed, should – have formulations of honest behaviours towards customers, suppliers, stakeholders and society generally. For how can it be said to be a true value if it is only selectively applied?

The book contains much more information on PMV than presented here, but you get the drift. And what does it lead to? Well, take Figure 2: here is a real life example extracted from – almost unbelievably given the simplicity of the data – a real FTSE 250 company!

Figure 2

Chapter 5 figure c

These simple numbers in Figure 2 are extremely revealing – at least The Senior Management thought so. What you think? What do these numbers tell you about what is happening within the company? But this blog is already far too long, so if you want to check your answer, read chapter 5 of the book! Or get in touch with one of our Motivational Map Practitioners...


Team copy cropped image
We looked last time at the inherent problem of lack of productivity and suggested that top performing teams were the antidote to this, in that they were almost by definition highly productive. But alongside this problem of creating top performing teams, we identified two others: first, that leading experts and consultancies in the field tended to advocate every buzz word in the lexicon, except motivation as part of the solution. And this was connected to an even deeper problem: the tendency to be static, to preserve the status quo, whilst simultaneously appearing to advocate change. Part of this was to do with the fact that one central change that has to happen is the move from a top-down approach to a bottom-up one, which motivation, correctly approached, does. But, of course, giving up that power – that top-down telling (and telling off!) is hard to renounce.

Anais Nin more generally commented on life that it is ‘… a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.’ Top-down management invariably does this: it seeks change whilst simultaneously seeking to preserve things as they are. The poet WH Auden expressed it this way:

We would rather be ruined than changed.

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the present

And let our illusions die.

And that – climbing the cross of the present – is what is required. If that sounds too abstract, then let’s boil it down to the simplest type of proposition, and let’s grasp the full import of William Kendall’s smart observation: ‘Building a vibrant company is about forming a good team... You cannot do it on your own ... It is a question of persuading people who are better than you to form a successful team’. People better than you? Ah, there’s the rub. Who can accept that easily in a culture where – as say in programmes like The Apprentice on television – we have to prove we are the best. So this is a psychological or ego issue, and one very similar to the whole thrust of what we have been saying all along: namely, that bottom-up is necessary and better than top-down in terms of long-term results and productivity. But again, psychologically, managers and leaders seem unable to let go of the need to ‘control’ their people.

But let’s add another layer to this analysis. For when it comes to teams, as well as individuals, we need to consider rewards. This is an easy to understand concept because it is soft-wired (if not hard-wired) into us from childhood onwards. If we perform, then we get prizes: be a good boy or be a good girl, and we get the ice cream or material reward; but even more important is the immaterial rewards we accumulate – acceptance, praise, admiration, support and more besides, including even love. We want – are motivated towards – these rewards. Organisations recognize this and many now have moved well beyond the simple and simplistic idea that paying people money is enough. However, this movement is itself not sufficient, since it tends to be about the WHAT and not the HOW, which is possibly even more important.

So, rewards are, on the one hand, a content – somebody receives ‘something’, which is a WHAT (for example, a pay bonus, a trip to the Caribbean, time off, and so on) - but also, critically, it is a process: the employee is handled in a specific way, and HOW this is done is crucial. Naturally, and as one would expect, most organisations spend most of their time focusing on arguably the less important of these two elements of rewards: the content. Content – the WHAT – is easy: make a list and dish out the goodies! Who wants to spend a lot of time thinking about it? But of course it is HOW we reward people that is more fundamental, and this does take some thinking about. And isn’t that obvious? The best gift in the world to one’s life partner left unwrapped and casually lying around will usually have less impact than a much more moderate gift – but carefully thought through and based on an understanding of the desires of the recipient – carefully and beautifully packaged, and presented at exactly the right psychological moment.

Moreover, a moment’s thought about what motivates us in our dealings with other people reveals that we prefer rewards that are:

Mapping motivation for top performing teams blog 2

Any team leader, then, needs to ask themselves whether they are genuine, sincere, well-intentioned, thoughtful, structured and temporal in their approach to rewarding and dealing with their team members. And it would appear that these qualities need to be established at the recruitment or interviewing stage of any appointment. Of course, there is no use asking anyone at interview: ‘Are you sincere’ or ‘Are you genuine’ because the answer will be ‘Yes’! But the fact is, past behavior is a good, though not infallible, indicator of whether these things are so.

From these deliberations, then, it should be clear as to why I had to write Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams for Routledge for this is literally the antidote to all such thinking and pretence. In particular chapter 6, Interdependency and Motivation, has an awful lot to say about successful recruiting, and provides a useful motivational toolkit to help that process happen.

In my next blog I shall explore this further, but for the full exploration of this topic go to my book, also available on Amazon.



One of the reasons why I especially wanted to write Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams for Routledge was because of the productivity problem that afflicts the UK in particular, but the Western world in general. Indeed, productivity is a concern for everybody everywhere; ultimately, if we are not productive we wither, and then we die. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Furthermore, there are several ways in which productivity can be raised, and the simplest of these – the easiest too – is through new technology. However, because this is simple it is also simplistic.

No-one would deny that being able to use computers or access the internet or develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more beside has not profoundly useful and productive in many instances; but who could also deny that each technological advance inevitably creates a new set of problems too? The thing is, technology is a ‘thing’ – inanimate, inert, and highly biddable. Which is why it is the go-to solution for most organisations. In other words, it is a convenient way of avoiding the people issue. Real and sustained productivity comes from people: highly motivated, highly skilled and highly directed people. But creating or forming such people is really complex – not like installing a new computer system.

And here’s where we come to my book: the optimum configuration of highly productive people is called … a team!

If we look at productivity in the UK, what do we find? It is estimated that productivity grew by 2% from 2008 to 2019, whereas before the financial crisis of 2008 it had grown by 2% per year! High productivity is a by-product of top performing teams; and the thing about it to consider is that productivity is simply leveraged performance(s). Each individual is enabled to perform at a high level – to reach their personal best – but wonderfully, over and above their individual performance being itself productive, the collective performances (the team’s) has an amazing synergistic effect out of all proportion to the numbers.

At this point we might also recall Peter Drucker who observed that, ‘No institution can survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it’. Actionable ideas will be, by their nature of being actionable, practical, useful, easy to understand and swift. The promise of building top performing teams is that whilst we do need intelligence, insight, knowledge and skills, yet we do not need to be geniuses or super-people; we need to be honest, diligent learners who seek to help achieve results and also to develop their fellow human beings whom we call our co-workers or colleagues. And we need these honest, diligent learners to be motivated and so highly motivating in everything they do. This, then, is a study about creating motivational teams through having motivational managers who fully understand motivation and how it works.

This issue of approaching top performing teams via motivation has never been more important, since we are going through a new revolution in the work place. We have had, about 150 years ago, the Industrial Revolution, and now we are experiencing the Digital Revolution which is almost certainly going to have as dramatic an effect on the future as the Industrial Revolution did before. A recent report by Deloitte talks about the disruptors to the world of work: increasing automation and AI technologies, workplace relocation and the move away from traditional places of work, and finally the work force itself becoming more heterogeneous, as in less mere employees, but more a combination of, and interaction between, different worker/talent types (e.g. employees, gig workers, contractors, crowds).

All of this leads to some fundamental shifts. Deloitte instances six major shifts that its research indicates need to happen. First, they head up the whole thing as being about organisations which are ‘adaptable’ in future; and to do this, organisations will have to switch from being:

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They also comment that organisations will have to consider ‘Employees are your first customers’ and that ‘high performing teams’ will be enabled ‘by adopting connected ways of working and an adaptable culture’.

As you can presuppose from my account above, I am extremely impressed by Deloitte’s research, but equally I am also disappointed. For in a 40-page document there is one word missing: motivation! Every buzz-word is used, except the one word that would really make a difference – motivation is not mentioned once in Deloitte’s report. It’s as if they think that by their analytics and data alone they can re-shape an organisation. Indeed, they talk of ‘…reshaping culture and behaviour to act with agility & collaboration’. And this is exactly what the psychometrics do: it’s a top-down approach which paradoxically claims to empower the work force. It means we are going to coerce ‘right’ behaviours and it is, therefore, staggeringly misconceived. At the beginning of the report we learn that ‘92% of organizations are not correctly structured to operate in this new environment [of the future]’ and my estimate would be that in another 10 years’ time another 92% will not be correctly structured either, because the whole approach is wrong.

In not addressing the bottom-up motivational approach organisations will never solve their people issues, although that may be good news for big consultancies in the same way that regional wars across the world are great news for various defence industries and corporations. Everyone has their job for life - their profits - and there is no change. And that is a real issue; there is an appearance of doing something about the rate of change, about change itself, and there is whole new line of jargon appearing that majors on this theme – the word ‘adaptability’ for example being just such a one. Carl Frey and Michael Osbourne recently observed that ‘Resistance to technological change does not just come from workers fearful of their jobs but from conservative elites who fear disruption to existing hierarchies’. How brilliant, then, to appear to be championing change but never addressing the real motivational issue underpinning it.

From these deliberations, then, it should be clear as to why I had to write Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams for Routledge for this is literally the antidote to all such thinking and pretence. For motivation is at the heart of building strong teams: teams that produce and are effective. In my next blog I shall explore this further, but for the full exploration of this topic go to my book, also available on Amazon

Going into 2021: What should we be thinking?


We know that security is a primary human desire and that whenever we don’t have it, we feel – at the least – uneasy, and sometimes much worse. It is also certainly true that 2020 has been a year unlike any other in terms of the uncertainty and fear that it has generated. We would probably need to go back to World War 2 to find a comparable – or even worse – period of time. World War 2, of course, lasted for six years and the thought that Covid-19 could do the same might well inspire a profound terror in all of us. However, we have been reassured in recent months that vaccines are coming down the line and that it is only a matter of time before the virus is contained. Let’s hope so.

But as we wait to see, some developments are already occurring which are of profound interest to all of us who are in the consultancy, training and coaching businesses – especially those who are both deep experts and also well-established in this field. I owe to my good friend Ian Brodie ( the following information which he mined from The Financial Times. Apparently, there is world-wide a surge of new businesses being formed. In the USA, the UK and France for comparable periods of time with the same in 2019, there were 82%, 30% and 20% increases in applications respectively. In France these were the highest ever recorded. It is probably a safe bet to conclude that this is happening in all Western democracies.

What is this telling us? Probably at least two things. One, that work is never going to return to what it was; that there is going to be a new normal that establishes itself by the end of 2021 (assuming that the virus is contained). Two, that the rush to create new businesses is because an increasing number of people are beginning to realise: a. that they don’t like working in offices anymore, and b. that there is no security in so doing; the job for life is truly well and gone and this crisis exposes it. So, what is the alternative? Strangely, it is following GK Chesterton’s advice: “There is no way out of danger except the dangerous way.” Starting a new business is a highly risky undertaking, as all the statistics show – some 80% of businesses fail in the first five years! Yet, this now seems less dangerous or less risky than staying in a job; add to that the fact that many now realise it is probably going to be far more enjoyable anyway – succeed or not – then you have a far-reaching situation emerging.

And the point? Well, what an opportunity for those consultants and coaches who are deep experts already in this field, and who have been round the block a few times! If we cast our minds back to when we first started, what do we remember? I have been self-employed and running businesses for 25 years now, but I fully accept that I was woefully under-supported when I started and could have benefited massively from some coaching that would have prevented me from making some of the colossal mistakes I made! Furthermore, a really good coach would almost certainly have got me where I wanted to be much quicker than I did. In fact, I didn’t start using coaches for myself till well after five years from when I started. That’s a lot of lost ground to make-up.

So what we have, then, is potentially hundreds, if not thousands of individuals wanting to come into this market over the coming year or two. Indeed, it has already started. We at Motivational Maps have just received an enquiry from someone being made redundant – but having experienced the Map within their role – and now seeking to be accredited in our tool. And I think this too is an important point: being a coach or consultant is one thing, but differentiation is going to be critical. Access to a brilliant tool, a relevant tool to today’s changing work place, is critical. As it happens, Motivational Maps is just that tool: it is possibly now the most pre-eminent change tool in the world; and part of its glory is its simplicity. Yes, simplicity to read and understand, but then within it, layers of complexity and extra value that coaches, consultants and trainers can deliver.

A good place to start thinking about where these new self-employed people might be is in your own databases – if they are on Linkedin, what indeed is happening, what shifts might be occurring? The thing is, these will not be high-ticket items like working for corporates, and not as ‘prestigious’ either. But as I like to say, “Small fish are sweet” and there are a lot of them. Plus, from the Searcher point of view, which many coaches are, it’s simply fantastic being able to help them launch their business successfully – to be part of it with them! We know a thing or two about that in Motivational Maps because that is one of the things our tool does: helps coaches become more fantastic, more successful.

Follow this link to connect with a Motivational Map Practitioner.

The Three Colours of Motivation Revisited


In the winter of January, 2010, I wrote a blog called “The Three Colours of Motivation”. Little did I know at the time that this would become my most popular and searched-for blog! What I think surprises me so much about this is that the blog is not “informative” in the same way as many other articles I write for this Motivational Memos series, but more symbolic. Actually, more poetic. To me this suggests something very hopeful and important indeed: that people want more poetry and beauty in their lives! As we enter another (dreadfully cold) winter, after a very trying and strange year, I thought it would be good to revisit this blog; hopefully, it will give you some motivation, or even inspiration, to make it through to next year!


The idea behind the “three colours” of motivation is based on the three clusters of motivators. There are “Relationship” motivators, for example, which are centred around security, belonging, and getting recognition from others. These are green in hue because they represent our roots, our connection with the world around us.


Then there are “Achievement” motivators, which are about work: having control over resources, material gain, and knowledge. These are red because red is the colour of human endeavour, both physical and intellectual; it’s the colour of war, of martial prowess, of triumph and achievement.


Finally, here are “Growth” motivators, sometimes thought of as “Self” motivators, which are about personal development. These are focused on creativity, independence, and making a difference to others (sometimes called transcendence). Blue is the hue of the Growth motivators, as it is the colour we most associate with the divine (a heavenly blue sky), and with the spirit. Blue is a colour of deep introspection, of an ocean we delve into to get to know the real inner self.


Most of us have a predominance of one colour in our profile. In other words, a colour may call to you! This predominance or preference can tell us almost as much as what someone’s individual motivators are. The colour of our motivation could, for example, indicate whether we like a lot of change in our life, whether we prefer take things fast or slow, or where our overall focus in the three principle domains of life lies: relationships with people, achievements at work, or developing oneself. Of course, unlike prescriptive psychometric “personality colours”, which are fixed and stereotyping, we believe that our motivations change over time and with experience. In addition, it is not merely about which cluster or colour is most dominant in the profile, but also how that interrelates with the motivators themselves. Having said that, you may feel that one or more of the colours speaks to you very deeply, and perhaps that could help you? So, here are the original colour descriptions I wrote back in 2010. Why not read them and see which one appeals to you most?


First, there is Green motivation. Green motivation is very strong – perhaps the strongest of all. If it were a sound it would be a big deep bass note – vibrating and resonating in the very core of us. As a colour it refreshes us – it makes us comfortable. We like to wear green. And when we see it outside, we hardly notice it because it is part of the texture of life itself.


What did your mother say when you were young? Eat your greens. Yes, the green energy comes directly from the sun, and this is woven into our being. It is the energy of relationships – feeling secure with someone else, belonging and friendship, and getting recognition for simply being us.

Green motivation is a real therapy. Is that what you feel like this winter?


The second colour of motivation is Red. Red motivation is not so much strong as dynamic – it glows with its own intensity. You notice Red; you cannot help it. In times past, Red has always been the martial colour: the God of War, Ares/Mars, is Red. The note here is a loud middle note – we cannot help but clearly hear it. It is a clear note struck in our working day.


It is the colour of stimulation and achievement. As we start the New Year, have you made those resolutions of achievement? They’re Red motivators. You want power and control – you want money and things – you want expertise and mastery? You want Red – wear that Red badge. Make 2010 (or indeed 2021!) the year you achieve your dreams – all fuelled by the Red motivator.


Finally, there is Blue motivation: cool Blue. If Green is strong, and Red is dynamic, then Blue is heroic. The note is high – ethereal – sometimes even difficult to hear, but when heard so sweet and inspiring.


Blue is not about achievement but more aspiration. We want heaven – the blue sky above us is where humans belong. When the Blue motivators are in us we are seeking to realise all we can be – we want creativity – we want freedom – we want meaning. At our heart the Blue motivator demands growth. And strangely, here there is a paradox: as we get seriously Blue motivated we find that the changes we want only lead us into the eternal now, which never changes. So what do you choose for the next few months? What motivators are obsessing you? How will you feed them?


And I know what you are thinking – and you are right! You are thinking, “Got you James – there’s a fourth motivator, isn’t there?” That’s right, what if I want a bit of all three colours? Of course. Let’s call that the Rainbow motivation!




MOTIVATION & THE GREAT ESCAPE or 'building our ability to persist'




The old masters used to observe the natural world and discern what lessons could be learned from it. We see this evident in our western tradition of poetry, where many of the great writers of their respective ages had a seeming affinity with the natural world and human nature that led to them creating scenes and images of profound beauty. We see it even more strongly in the martial arts traditions of the east, where individual fighting styles are often named after animals: tiger, monkey, crane, etcetera. I learned one such lesson from the natural world a few decades ago, albeit it was rather less grand and beautiful than the past ones I have cited!


I was lying in bed, almost on the verge of sleep. My wife snored (I mean, breathed very quietly and beautifully) next to me, obviously deeply asleep. Suddenly, the fabric of the universe didn’t seem quite right. There was some disturbance, a small noise that was almost imperceptible at first, but slowly it gnawed at my consciousness until I became fully alert – eyes wide open – listening for danger.


Scratch, scratch, scratch. Rustle. It was so soft that I doubted for a moment, was it my imagination? No! I turned on the bedside light, “Linda … I think …”


Pandemonium broke out. We leapt out of the bed in a frantic search. There! There!


Our son’s hamster, Nicky, had broken out from his cage.


It was 2:00am in the morning. We frantically scrambled to follow his tiny, scurrying body, then scrambled again for a box to gently return him to his metal bastion.


After a stressful search and capture, we securely locked him back in his “Gulag”. Our son Joe snored on, happy and oblivious.


We returned to bed, congratulating ourselves. But an hour later, 3:00am, Nicky escaped again – making a second dash for freedom.


The search began again. Finally, we got him back in his cage and gave him a grape. There was a pause of deep bliss, of calm, and in this moment I wondered: how did he do it?


The cage looked as secure as Alcatraz (albeit for hamsters). It had a metal frame, hard plastic locks, and a weighty cage lid that had to be twisted to be opened. We’d had Nicky for a year at this point, and he’d never escaped before; had one of us made a mistake? A careless oversight?


Examining the evidence, dreamily entertaining the notion of myself a kind of pet detective, I realised this was not the case.


Nicky had moved one of his toys to the centre of the cage. When standing on top of this cage, he was able to place both of his little paws on the lid. By applying his bodyweight from this vantage, he was able to turn this lid and open the cage. He had learned, presumably by watching us, that a twisting motion was needed to open the lid. The ingenuity left me pretty speechless. It’s then that the lesson struck me.


To be successful, we may utilise many strategies, such as strengthening our purpose, taking responsibility, committing to excellence, being of service to others, and seeking synergy from co-operation, and of course increasing creativity… but there is another factor that is vitally important, one that Nicky demonstrated in abundance: persistence. Nicky tested that elaborate cage to destruction – every crevice, every corner, every angle. His teeth gnawed here, gnawed there, and importantly he never gave up. We see this in the success stories of famous athletes, writers, musicians, and others—they keep going no matter how many setbacks or rejections they suffer. It was something I “already knew” in some sense, at least at a conscious level, but the image of that determined hamster, tiny and seemingly powerless, cracking out of the “Gulag” was much more potent than any of those celebrity stories. It was purer. The message finally reached me at an unconscious (and hence far deeper) level.


Nicky knew nothing of discouragement. Even after his two great escapes, he was still looking for the weak spot, the next opportunity. That’s how we should be in business. We cannot afford to stand still and accept our fate. We must test the boundaries, create solutions, and never lose heart. As Thomas Watson Snr, founder of IBM, said, “If you want to increase your success, increase your failure rate!”


We need, then, to strengthen our resolve to persist. One way that we can do this is by increasing our motivation levels. When we are motivated, we have the energy to keep going and the resilience to bounce back from setbacks. We’re also more highly aware of our purpose. When we have this focus on purpose, we’re prepared to put up with the setbacks, because we can reconnect with the reason for doing what we’re doing: the end-goal, perhaps even reward for our long labours. The key, however, which is again something Nicky demonstrated so brilliantly, is that we must not merely persist doing the exact same thing over and over again, but trying out different methods until we come up with the one that works, thereby creating a new and ingenious way forward. They say the definition of madness is “doing the same thing and expecting a different result”, after all.


The first step to increasing our motivation, which in turn will build our ability to persist, is to become aware of what motivates us: is it security (Defender), belonging (Friend), recognition (Star), control (Director), material gain (Builder), acquiring and passing on knowledge (Expert), creativity (Creator), making a difference to others (Searcher), or freedom and independence (if little Nicky could complete a Motivational Map, surely Spirit motivator would be his number one!), or even a combination of several of these? These are the nine primary drivers that influence human behaviour, and by recognising which ones are acting on us most strongly, we can harness more energy, more enthusiasm, and the endless optimism of Nicky the Hamster: guru of the Gulag!







MOTIVATION & THE CENTIPEDE or 'taking care of the details'...


In the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” We see this time and time again where one small overlooked element causes the whole house of cards to come crashing down. It is often in the small things that the telltale signs may be read about the state of an organisation or relationship’s health. We have to get the small details right, and in doing so, will often fix the big things.


Take motivation as a case in point. For many organisations or leaders, motivation is considered a relatively unimportant factor, a “nice-to-have”. If they’re making profit, and everyone is being paid on time, then surely the minor issue of a few disgruntled employees is no major issue? Of course, they fail to see that over time this “small” issue will become a major one, and indeed, if it is not redressed, possibly cause the collapse of the organisation. In addition, the issue of staff motivation, whilst on the surface seeming to be purely a “people” or “HR” issue, will in fact cause knock-on effects in every other department and facet of the business. Demotivated people don’t sell, which leads to loss of revenue. Demotivated people leave, which leads to the extortionate costs of recruitment multiplying. Demotivated people spread bad press, such as “It was awful working for XYZ, don’t apply for a job there.” Or, in some ways even more disastrous, “Don’t by XYZ products, they mistreat their staff!” This is detrimental to the strength of your brand, loses even more revenue, and closes down new opportunities. As you can see this “small” issue of motivation, left unaddressed, suddenly affects everything and everyone.


Of course, motivation is particularly important to me, but motivation is not the only “small detail” that can make a colossal difference to your organisation. There are many small upkeep factors that we must pay due attention to. In the light of Covid, and all the big things going on in the world, we are more likely than ever to overlook these small things as we’re overwhelmed with these crises and large challenges. However, arguably, it is still more important to focus on the little things; we have no control over Covid, after all, but we do have control over whether our staff feel valued and rewarded, whether our website is optimised, and whether we decide to put those extra-personal touches in all we do, in relation to customer-service or otherwise!


This principle is not only true of the business world. We can see it in our personal relationships and self-development as well. When you think about your relationships, whether friendships, family relationships, or romantic ones, don’t the small details count for so much more? It’s the little things our partners or friends do that make a difference to us day-to-day. When the little attentive things stop, often this precipitates a serious calamity or deterioration in the relationship.


Likewise, when we think about personal development, it’s the little things we do – a ten-minute yoga practice each day, a mindfulness or meditation routine, a regular creative practice – that becomes transformative over time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bootcamp, where you go away for three weeks and study or train in an intensive fashion. But the learning we acquire from a bootcamp cannot be maintained without these small habits and elements in place.


There is an American story I came across a while ago and love, that illustrates this attitude perfectly, I’ll share with you now…




One day, not so long ago, two teams of animals decided to compete to see who was best at football. It was a case of the large animals, The Lumpers, versus the small ones, the Tiny Team. Elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions and tigers versus rats, skunks, hedgehogs, frogs and, well, a centipede.


Naturally, there was a lot of animosity and name-calling.


“We’ll crush you, small fry!”

“You big lumpuses!”


The day arrived. The coach for Team Tiny was very excited.


“Go out – give it everything you got,” he said. “Remember – you can do it – believe in yourself.”


So out they went.


They returned at halftime, bruised, crestfallen, and down 3-0. The rhino (the elephant’s run always tended to peter out) – once he’d gotten up steam – was unstoppable. But the Tiny Team’s coach was a real motivator.


“Go on,” he said. “Don’t quit now – winners never quit and quitters never win. Visualise that ball going in the back of their net – next thing, you’ll see it happen!”


So out they went. The game had barely kicked off when the rhino got possession and charged straight at goal. He was in the penalty area and on-side. The goalkeeper – the frog – had simply jumped aside. All the rhino had to do was shoot… when suddenly there was a green flash. The rhino, hypnotised, crashed over his own feet. The rest of the players were riveted watching him collide with the mud and into the goal post. Thud! And the ball, it went in the other end. 3-1.


A huge cheer went up.


“Who did that?” cried Team Tiny’s coach in ecstasy.

“Got ‘em that time, coach,” yelled the centipede.

“Well done, centipede, keep it up,” beamed the coach.

“Right,” thought the tiger. A neat bit of paw and claw work later and there he was, open goal in front, when … whoosh … a green blur, and suddenly a goal for the Tiny Team. The tiger hadn’t even felt the ball leave his control. It was now 3-2.


“Who did that?” cried Team Tiny’s coach.

“Got ‘em again, coach,” yelled the centipede.

“Well done, centipede, keep it up.”

That’s more like it, thought the coach.


Now the lion – who always saw himself as a cut above the rest – was really hacked off. He made it his personal business to score (usually he couldn’t be bothered). One roar and the small animals vacated the pitch on mass. He was just about to put it in the back of the net when … whoosh, green lightning … and the score was 3-3! Unbelievable!


“Who did that?” roared the coach.

“Showed ‘em again,” chuckled the centipede.

“Well done, centipede, keep it up – we can win this one,” said the coach. Then a quizzical look came over his face. “By the way, centipede, where were you in the first half?”

The centipede replied, “Putting on my shoes, coach.”






You see, the best vision, the most sublime goals, the most wonderful exhortations and inspirations in the world won’t work unless… we really ensure we’ve taken care of the smallest details! In the centipede’s case: tying their many, many shoelaces!


So, what small details might trip you up – at work, in your relationships, or in your self development?


Here are some typical examples:


At work – lack of punctuality, failure to keep promises, disorderly work habits and record keeping?


In relationships – lack of time spent with a loved person or friend, inattention to others’ needs, critical and blaming spirit, failure to generously praise and encourage.


For self development – lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of special hobby/interest, no ‘learning’ stretch built into future programme for your life.


Be honest with yourself – where do you need to tighten your focus? If you’re not sure, then ask someone you trust.


For more information on motivation, why not pick up a copy of Mapping Motivation.

MOTIVATION & THE DEVIL or 'the secret of demotivation'...


There are two distinct camps emerging in the world of business development. Firstly, there are those who believe that technology (AI, robotics, etc) is going to solve all of their business’s problems. For them, there is sadly little hope; they are in a hell of believing the future is always around the corner, the water nearly within reach, but never quite getting there (see the myth of Tantalus!). Certainly we need to update our businesses from time to time and explore what opportunities technology might bring, but there are problems technology cannot address, and never will, no matter how sophisticated our computers become. The second camp are those who are increasingly beginning to wise up to the idea that improving structure, strategy, or systems is one thing, but unless the people can ‘perform’, all their labour is in vain. Even in times of crisis, where performance is partly motivated by necessity, we recognise its tremendous value. People who can perform, despite the lockdown, despite the fear and obstacles, are indescribably valuable. They can keep entire organisations afloat with the value they generate!


Great businesses can nurture and encourage their staff to continue to perform despite these trying circumstances; this is likely to create loyalty and engagement, and lead to retention. And believe me, even now, where employment prospects are slim, maintaining staff is still a priority. I’ve encountered several businesses who have handled the lockdown so poorly they’ve had all their staff jump ship, leaving them rudderless and powerless. They left people feeling so undervalued, and unable to perform, that they would rather risk the uncertainty of a job search in lockdown than stay a moment longer. Now that is truly awful!


Naturally, people performing begins at the top. As the great Quality guru, Crosby, once put it: “Good ideas and solid concepts have a great deal of difficulty being understood by those who earn their living by doing it some other way.” Those at the top can be the most averse to realistically appraising themselves. But if they don’t, as sure as night follows days, neither will their staff.


Furthermore, given the importance of people to our long-term success, it really does pay off to consider recruitment, retention, and reward in-depth, and go on considering it. Paraphrasing Sun Tzu, Krause observes: “Leaders who complain about morale of their employees evidently do not realise that employee’s morale is a mirror of confidence in their leadership.” If we substitute the word “morale” for “motivation”, then we can see even more clearly how this applies. We often see this disparity in the results of Motivational Team Maps, where we find that the motivation of the team-leader should be higher than their staff, but often is not, which explains the negative trajectory of the team’s performance. This is a painful realisation for many, but if we can courageously accept the lesson it teaches, we are on the way to significantly improving our approach to people.


But how do we get the best performance out of people? How do we “nurture” them even in these trying times? Well, naturally, I think the key lies in motivation. Maintaining the motivation levels of our staff, of all levels, should be our number one priority, especially given the uncertainty of the future ahead. There is a folk story that illustrates this principle; it goes something like this…


The Devil realised he was never going to win in his battle against God, so he decided to throw in the towel. To this end, he held a car boot sale in order to flog off all his tools and assets.


The day came – it had been well advertised – and various colleagues and peers turned up looking for bargains. And, boy, were there some bargains!


There was this sharp, shiny, pointy spear called Pride that could shatter anyone’s armour. Very expensive, but a tasty piece of equipment.


Alongside this there was a mace with strange eyes set all around its head, so that it could see, in three-hundred-and-sixty degrees, everything that was going on around it; sometimes, if the mace spotted something it didn’t like, it would swing of its own accord. This was Envy.


All in all, the Devil had some fantastic, high-tech equipment – stuff that could really mess people up. All of it was very expensive. His colleagues were standing there, drooling over it, wondering which pieces they could afford to buy.


But in the centre of the collection was a large, nondescript, blunt, lustreless piece of metallic tubing – its only possible use was as leverage.


Beelzebub said, “How much is that old piece of junk?”


The Devil smiled and quoted a price. There was a gasp all round – the price he asked was worth more than all the other pieces put together.


That’s outrageous!” said Beelzebub, “that’s just a piece of junk.”


That,” said the Devil, “is Demotivation. Without it, none of the other tools work. When I want to tempt someone I always start with Demotivation. Buy it and you’ll see.”




When we are motivated, it inoculates us against negative emotions, against the bad experiences we have during the day, against doubt and fear. To continue the analogy of the story, when we are demotivated, we are more vulnerable to the Devil’s temptations. Nothing in heaven or earth can entirely remove the nagging voice of doubt in our minds. We’re human, after all. If we aren’t questioning ourselves, then are we truly thinking at all? But, the sway that nagging, doubting voice has on us is directly influenced by how motivated we are. When we’re highly motivated, we can tell the voice in our head, The Devil, that he’s wrong: we are good at what we do, we are going to succeed.


Motivation is energy, as I have often reiterated, and energy gives us resilience. Resilience is often described as our ability to “bounce back” from setbacks, but we cannot bounce back unless we are truly motivated and energised. Demotivation leads to low energy. Again, this leaves us vulnerable to The Devil’s metaphorical temptations. For example, if we are exhausted every day, are we likely to go for that run to keep our fitness up? Are we likely to put in those few extra hours to make sure the project is “done right”? No, we’re likely to cut corners and take the “easy path”, as Yoda might say.


Anyone who has ever witnessed the affects of Demotivation on staff will know that it’s far more disastrous than lack of skills or knowledge. People without “hard skills” can be taught them. In fact, even soft skills can be taught to a degree. Clinical psychologists go through a vigorous seven year (and sometimes more) training programme which teaches them how to listen, how to ask the right questions, how to empower other people and validate their ideas (but also politely and gently challenge self-destructive ones). But motivation cannot be artificially instilled; it has to be implemented and worked on. If we fail to do this and become demotivated, nothing: no training, technology, or pep-talks will be able to get us to perform, and we lose our inoculation against negative thought patterns and damaging emotions that can lead to even deeper problems.


So, don’t let the Devil destroy your business. Use Motivational Maps, and kick him back to hell!


For me, success with a client, is not that somebody says ‘This is really interesting, thanks’, but ‘How can we imbed it in our business?’.”

Becoming a Business Practitioner is a big step, but the rewards are also tremendous. We wanted to speak with our BPs and get a sense of what they felt the biggest challenges and rewards of being a BP were, as well as foreground the amazing work they do. This interview with Cassandra Andrews is our eleventh and final instalment, revealing the secrets of life as a BP and the incredible difference they make in the Maps community and beyond.


Cassandra Andrews is a global Motivation and Employee Engagement Expert, passionate about helping business leaders engage with their people and understand and realise the power of Employee Engagement. She is the founder of Engaging Norfolk, to start a movement where Norfolk is recognised as a dynamic and great place to work.



HR Star (2017_08_02 10_18_52 UTC) HR Spirit (2017_08_02 10_18_52 UTC)


I did a Map in October, because I hadn’t done one in about a year. And then I did one last month, just to see what was going on! I’ve been on a bit of a personal development journey during lockdown. The shocking thing for me, was that they were almost identical! I have a high Star, and I’ve been working on a number of issues. It’s quite tough being a high Star, in terms of the pressure you put on yourself. I’ve been doing all this work with Bevis (Bevis is my coach) and he said he thought the Star would probably be less dominant in the profile. No! It’s exactly the same!”


That’s interesting, because in the light of coronavirus and lockdown, we’ve been having lots of conversations with Mappers about how people's profiles are changing in response to these dramatic circumstances.


I know, without a doubt, that my top three motivators, they’re really high scores, and they have driven me throughout my life. My Spirit is 37! I always joke it’s the reason I’m divorced. I really don’t like people telling me what to do! When I was working in my last job (before quitting to become a BP), which was a not-for-profit, I was permanently frustrated with the bureaucracy, the time it took anything to happen, and the way that I was managed. Everything about it frustrated me and now I see why.”


My Builder is a 33. I like stuff. And having an above average standard of living is super important to me. Often when I do debriefs with people, especially when I look at where their Searcher is, they can be quite uncomfortable with having a high Builder. I’m not ashamed of it at all! I like stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But then, my Searcher’s not as high! I think I’m actually the opposite of most of the people in the Maps community.”


Certainly! The majority of Mappers have Searcher in their top three or even number one, it seems. There are a lot of narratives around “materialism”, and the extremes of materialism that of course can be all-consuming, which has given rise to negative associations with having Builder in your profile, so it’s interesting to meet someone who has embraced it!


I think it’s really important, when you run your own business, that your Builder is high, otherwise where is your drive coming from?”


This is an excellent point, because not only is the Builder about material gains and success, but it is also the most competitive of the motivators.

My third motivator is Star, which is a 28. And then the next motivator is at 18, so there’s a clear priority there! The thing that is potentially a bit of an Achilles’ Heel for me is my Expert. It’s my lowest motivator.”


I asked if she felt it was difficult sometimes, because the Maps, whilst easily understood in terms of what they mean, are also a rich and detailed subject that require a lot of expertise to deliver.


I don’t, actually. I think that’s driven by my Star, how I want to be seen! So, I read a lot. In fact, I emailed James Sale recently, because I started getting into the Enneagram. And now I’m a BP, I feel it’s a missing link to help my LPs have a holistic understanding of where James was coming from [when he created the Maps]. I just love it! So, in terms of this Expert, what an Achilles’ Heel in terms of me learning about that, and it also impacts my Builder, because the way I’m going to make money is by showing my expertise at my craft! But, I think what it is for me, is I hate detail. Even in conversations, it can just switch me off. That’s my Achilles’ Heel when I’m dealing with clients. There are some people, usually Expert motivators, and they just always have to be right. It drives me nuts!”


This is really interesting because although the Maps tap into universal human drives, established with their roots in Maslow, there is a lot of individuality to how people interpret their motivators and the meaning they ascribe to the motivators.


I find the whole combination of motivators fascinating! I’ve done hundreds of debriefs. I’ve rarely done a debrief when people don’t have a “wow” moment. That’s why I love Motivational Maps! I think it’s so much more powerful than a personality profile, because it’s real time. And you can take action. You can’t really take action on your personality!”


I wondered how that connected to being a BP.


I fairly recently became a BP. I haven’t trained anyone yet! My motivation for learning about the Enneagram is because I’m now a BP and I take this seriously. The reason I became a BP is in part to grow my business. And, I’m a high Builder, so I like the idea of passive income.

I used to have a business a number of years ago. It was a recruitment business and it was a franchise. I ran that for 8 years. At the time, I thought ‘This is the way forward’, I wanted to run a business that I was a franchiser of. Supporting a network of franchisees was an exciting feeling for me. Probably because of my Star! Now, my Spirit’s so high, I just think ‘Oh God’!”


There’s way too much management there for a Spirit!


Yes! And, for me, the compromise is actually if I can train LPs. Firstly, my mission is to get Motivational Maps into as many businesses as possible and to embrace it. Predominantly, I want to do that in the States. Secondly, I really want to be able to support the LPs. I just see, every day when I’m working with a client, the impact it’s making, and I think: ‘This needs to be out there more!’ And the only way I can do that, because I have a ceiling on my time, is by training other people.”


A lot of Mappers have sought to bring Maps to the States, but for whatever reason, it has not quite had the impact that it has had in the UK, and indeed, in European countries such as Hungary. We discussed why that might be.


I love the States. I’m fascinated by the different cultures there. The fact that Maps don’t really exist there to me is a complete gap in the market. And I want to fill it! I have big plans to fill it. That is my purpose currently!”






As Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher, observed: “The secret of all victory lies in the organisation of the non-obvious”. One of the “non-obvious” factors that we come across time and time again when working with businesses of all kinds is that one of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to motivate their employees and teams. This is only becoming more important as the majority of people move to remote-working conditions, where the “buzz” of a bustling workplace can no longer be relied upon to instil energy and confidence.


We have discussed leadership extensively on this blog already, but it is worth recapping just a little bit, because leadership is fundamentally intertwined with teams and team-building.


So, why do team-leaders need to motivate employees? Or in other words, “Why spend time motivating people who are already being well paid to get on with their jobs?” We encounter this sentiment frequently, but if you have been following this series of blogs at all, you will know that the answer is simple: motivation is energy. When we do the things we’re motivated by, then we have energy, which means attention-to-detail, productivity, and polish. When we’re demotivated, we’re just going through the motions; it’s like wading through tar. So leaders, as the “trend-setters” who are hopefully leading by example, must be able to motivate their employees and their teams, as teams play a vital role in any organisation.


But motivation is not just about delivering charismatic speeches or throwing wild parties; these might work for a small minority of people with certain motivational drivers, but certainly not for everyone. Motivation is a subtler art that requires delicate tools. It’s as much about the way you say things, for some people, as what you’re saying. And in some cases, it’s about saying nothing at all and just listening – a fact that is often forgotten by senior management!


In previous blogs we have given leaders tools to be able to measure and assess your teams’ performance in very simple and straightforward ways. In this blog, I want to provide a three more useful tools, all of which involve the Motivational Map of course!



It is important to consider that given teams need a strong remit (as we have discussed in previous blogs), then examining the Motivational Profile of a team is not simply an exercise in determining whether the team is motivated and whether there are an internal conflicts or “red flags”, but also whether the team’s motivational profile is “fit for purpose”. For example, if we need speed in the workplace, then ideally we would like a team with “faster” motivators (generally speaking the Growth-cluster motivators). When we say “faster” or “slower” here, we generally mean in terms of decision-making. Growth cluster motivators tend to be “gut instinct” driven, which means they make decisions fast and instinctively. Relationship cluster motivators, on the other hand, tend to weigh the decisions more carefully. On that note: if we require the team to be thorough, accurate and careful, then a predominance of slower motivators would not be amiss. There is no right or wrong set of motivators here, any more than there is a right or wrong motivational profile for an individual, but context is all-important. As a leader, if you need to determine whether the team you’ve pulled together is appropriate for the task at hand.



Just as in an individual Maps profile, it is worth considering what the dominant motivational cluster of the team is. This not only relates to “speed”, but also many other factors and potential traits. Of course, every Maps profile both individual and team-based will have its own unique cocktail of motivators which can mean numerous different outcomes. The Maps in no way stereotypes or “fixes” behaviours, so we are by no means saying that all outcomes are predictable, but specific drivers are more likely to lead to certain outcomes. As a team-leader, it is important to be aware of this.


When Relationship motivators dominate the team, motivation comes primarily from feeling secure with others orbelonging. Friendship is likely to be a very important part of the team vibe (we have discussed the Friend motivator’s vital role in teams before). A Relationship dominant team will therefore tend to be process and procedurally driven –i.e. efficiency over effectiveness. They are likely to value accuracy and doing things the “right” way. It is worth beingmindful that because they like security and predictability they may shy away from taking risks and avoiding change. This can mean lost opportunities and can effectively lead to a ‘country club’ atmosphere around work that may be underachieving. Could they perform at a higher level by approaching risk and change with a more positive attitude?


When Achievement motivators dominate the team, then motivation comes primarily from control of resources, people and technology, and mastery of the field. They will tend to be results driven and competitive; it’s about the bottom line and measurable indicators of success. Because they enjoy competition and achievement so much, however, they may quickly burn out, as it can be all work and no play. This can ironically also lead to lost opportunities, as well as leading to them missing out on fulfilling relationships within the team, relationships that can also have a significant positive impact on the team’s overall performance when people start cooperating and working together. Lastly, the relentless pursuit of objectives can also drive out creativity and innovation.


When Growth motivators dominate the team, then motivation comes primarily from innovation and creativity, autonomy, fulfilling “the mission” and making a difference. They will tend to be ideas and future driven, individualistic, and concerned with achieving their full potential and being all they can be. Be mindful that with such a growth and self-development focus they are unlikely to be team players by nature. Further, their focus on change and being involved with new things often means details are usually not their strong point; they can initiate ideas and projects, but sometimes fail to finish or follow through.


Finally, it is worth discussing when no cluster is dominant, and the motivators are mixed in the team. In terms of the actual scoring this means that there is narrow range between all three types of motivator, no more than a 4% difference. Remember that context is everything: all combinations have their strengths – and weaknesses. It could well be a strength in which a variety of motivators are effectively deployed through appropriate roles within the team. Alternatively, it could be a complete mess of internal conflicts and lack of unity. A warning sign that the motivational profile needs to be addressed would be that the team is indecisive or uncommitted or even unfocused.



Lastly, I want to talk about the tools that leaders have for assessing whether their teams are able to cope with change. Given the speed of change in our current climate, with new government legislations and rulings, new “normals” we are constantly having to adapt to, this feels more pertinent than ever!


The team map has what we call a Change Index: the property demonstrating a pre-disposition towards change (and actually an attitude towards risk as well; for our purposes these two terms, change and risk, are virtually synonymous). The Change Index is calculated via an algorithm based on a weighting of the motivators, which seeks to establish how receptive a team is to change. Change is not good or bad in itself, but if big changes are necessary – and increasingly they seem to be – then whether or not a team is emotionally ready or resistant to that change is an important factor to consider before implementation; it needs to be taken into account because even the best ideas will fail if the team motivationally or emotionally are not ready to accept them. And let us also be aware: teams that resist changes may have good reasons to do so, and may subsequently be proven right in their opposition if it was a bad idea!


So, now you have three new tools for developing your team! We hope this empowers you and your colleagues to stay motivated during these unprecedented times.




If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.



Bob Garratt, in his book The Fish Rots from the Head (1997), observed, “A Value is a belief in action.” I think this is very true. Most organisations, when citing their values, tend to use nouns – such as “integrity” or “creativity” – static words that don’t reflect action but rather something passively held. This is perhaps part of the reason why so many organisations fail to embody and “live” their values.


I alluded in my previous blog on “Team Voice” about how Motivational Maps can help organisations to discover whether their organisation’s stated values, and the inner drivers of their employees correlate. It is my intention in this blog to unpack this a bit further and show how this relates to teams.


When we are talking about teams: creating them, nurturing them, leading them, and unleashing their full potential, it is important that we bear in mind that teams, like organisations as a whole, will be beholden to a set of values. These values are partly self-generated, of course, but they may also be imposed upon them. For example, if a team has been created to solve a particularly difficult problem, then they may have had the necessity of “finding creative solutions” impressed upon them. Teams, by definition, also carry in-built values, such as “working together”, though one would be surprised at how many alleged team-players can very quickly become argumentative even knowing that cooperation is expected and necessary.


When a team’s motivators are aligned with its values, then magic can happen, because the team’s energy is naturally moving in the right direction, which means that the team is very likely to take action and live the values through doingbecause we tend to do the things that motivate us and feed our energy, not the things we feel we have to.


So, how do we make sure these values and inner drivers are aligned?


The first step is to identify what the “perceived” values of the team or organisation are. This is relatively simple, as most organisations will already have a set of values, either on their website, or in their internal communications. It is highly likely that these values will be static nouns, so I would say that one way to improve and clarify your values would be to turn them into verbs – doing words.


However, we don’t mean simply performing a grammatical exercise. For example, turning “creativity” into “to create”. We mean really getting into the specifics of what this value could mean for your staff and leaders day-to-day. So, “creativity” might instead become “always looking for creative solutions”. Whilst not perfect, it’s a good deal more powerful than simply one static word. Some words will be more difficult than others to convert. For example, “integrity”. How might that be transformed into a “doing” phrase. We could say, “to always act in a way that is honest, fair, kind and truthful.” You will have noticed that the word “always” comes into these statements quite a bit, and I think that is important, because anything less than “always” is a little bit wishy-washy.


Once we have established what the intended values of the organisation or team are, we can then use Motivational Maps to identify whether these values are being lived. This works well because “motivators aggregated become strong indicators of the actual values lived, as opposed to espoused! What does this mean? It means that at the end of the day whatever the organisation says its values are, its employees have to live these values, and whether they will or not mightily depends on their motivational profile” (MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, James Sale & Steve Jones).


It’s worth noting that this can be a very challenging process and we have to be brave – prepared to look into the mirror of truth. It might be disconcerting or even destabilising to discover that our values are not ultimately important to our staff and team-members deep down. But, if we are able to be honest with ourselves, and “grab the bull by the horns” then it can lead to healing and growth as we work towards re-alignment.


To give an example of what I mean by this, what if your organisation’s values were “finding creative solutions to problems”, “anticipating the unexpressed needs of the customer”, and “demonstrating knowledge and expertise”. This is a hodgepodge of different statements but it will serve as an example! However, upon doing a map, you found out that your team has Director, Friend, and Defender as your top three motivators. To recap,


  • The Director wants control of people and resources

  • The Friend wants to belong

  • The Defender wants security and predictability


If we reverse-engineer the formerly “espoused” values, we might get the following Motivational Maps profile


  • “finding creative solutions to problems” = The Creator

  • “anticipating the unexpressed needs of the customer” = The Searcher (making a difference)

  • “demonstrating knowledge and expertise” = The Expert


Essentially, you want the team to value creativity, customer-focus, and expertise, but instead they want authority, belonging, and security. This means that with the best will in the world, their natural tendency will be to move towards these latter drivers rather than remaining “on target” with the former values of the team. In addition, many of their actual motivators conflict directly with the values of the organisation or team. For example, The Defender generally doesn’t like to take risks, because it values predictability and security, but the nature of creativity is to take risks, experiment, and change things!


What might we do to address such a gap, having discovered it?


This is not a simple question to answer and of course will be unique to each organisation or team’s predicament, but here are some ideas and strategies that could help:


  • Re-evaluate the organisation or team’s values, and whether they are achievable standards given the motivational energies of the people involved.


  • Evaluate whether there are any gaps that could be addressed by training or by moving people around. We often find that people are very haphazardly deployed in organisations, which means the wrong energy in the wrong places (for example, extremely socially motivated individuals working alone in a room on a computer). It might be you have untapped potential in another part of the organisation.


  • Develop “reward strategies” that focus on motivators. Kenneth W Thomas remarked: “You need a diagnostic framework to point you toward what’s most likely to make a difference and to save you from having to try motivational solutions in an inefficient, hit-or-miss way.” If we use Maps to know what people want, then we can motivate them to an even greater degree by giving them appropriate rewards, rather than “guessing” at what they would like.


These are just some ways and is by no means comprehensive. However, knowing the difference between espoused and static values, and lived and embodied ones connected to our motivators, is enough to begin the journey towards more productivity, happiness, and success within your organisation or team.




If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.



One of the reasons why Engagement is popular with HR and in organisational literature is that it is, allegedly, ‘measurable’. Indeed, the Macleod Report makes that very point. But whilst being measurable is a good thing, because then we can view the effects of our actions to improve things, yet one has to ask the question: given its measurability, why hasn’t employee engagement significantly improved in the 20 or so years since this concept went mainstream? Many commentators have noted this phenomenon.i” – MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, JAMES SALE & STEVE JONES


It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever completed one, but staff surveys are by and large massive wastes of organisational time and effort. There are several reasons for this which I cover in detail in my book Mapping Motivation for Engagement, co-authored with Steve Jones. However, to give a brief précis of four key reasons why they don’t work:


1) They are expensive for what they do; after all, what are managers and HR experts being paid for if not to understand their people?


2) Surveys are easily manipulated because they are very obvious. It’s a little bit like those visa-forms when travelling to America that ask “Have you been affiliated with a terrorist organisation?” If I had, I am hardly likely to answer “Yes”, am I?


3) The information obtained from a survey, especially if there are “comment boxes”, is often fragmentary and not easy to assimilate, implement, or respond to.


4) And further to the last point, one of the frequent criticisms of staff surveys is that the issues they raise are not subsequently addressed or repaired.


Given these points, it would seem obvious that staff surveys are not helpful, but many organisations still feel compelled to have them, and there is a very valid and wholesome reason for that, which is hearing the “employee voice”. An organisation should really want to hear what their staff have to say, and any efforts to discover what staff are saying should be lauded. However, what we propose is that surveys are not the ideal way to go about obtaining this feedback. The Motivational Map is far more effective for a number of reasons. Again, these are covered in far greater detail in our book, but here is a brief summary:


1) Unlike a staff survey, Motivational Maps are relatively inexpensive to implement; one reason for this of course is that they never need to be bespoke.


2) Maps are far faster to implement and understand for the same reason that they do not need to be ‘customised’, as their language is universal.


3) Maps are subtle, and reveal both specifics and trends.


4) The information Maps provide, due to it being partly numerical (aka a metric), can be readily understood and can be immediately acted upon.


Bonus Point: The Map tells us what people want. When we do a Team Map, we begin to understand what a team collectively wants (see point (3) about “trends”!). This can give us valuable information about whether a team is truly a team or just a mob of individuals. One can even do an Organisational Map, which will then establish what the entire organisation wants, and this begins to lead us towards organisational “values” (as Motivators are certainly correlated with our values and beliefs), which in turn begs the mighty question: “Does our organisation truly live and embody its values?”


To return to the theme of “teams” however, which is the subject of this blog series, how then can we use Motivational Maps to “hear the voice” of our teams? In my two previous articles, we explored the four characteristics of real teamsand how to measure the efficacy of teams. This article will therefore focus on how we can use the information gleaned from a tool like the Map to better energise, reward, and guide our teams.


To understand how we can use this information, we first, however, have to understand what information the Maps give us. The short answer is: quite a lot!


In previous blogs I have covered some of the fundamental basics of the Maps. However, here I want to discuss with you three key - but very simple - things to look out for when mapping a team, as these elements are certainly part of listening to the “employee voice”.



If you Map a team, what is the range of motivational scoring between the highest and lowest? If one person in the team is 90% motivated, and another is 10% motivated, this tells you a few things: (a) that the team is probably not cohesive, (b) that day-to-day behaviours or activities in the team may be actively de-motivating for some but not all team members, (c) simply: that some people are getting what they want from the team, but others aren’t.


As you can see, even looking at this very simple data, we can already glean a lot of information.



We have in Maps a concept called “internal opposition” which is where someone has two or more priorities highly ranked in their profile that conflict. For example, if someone has the Creator motivator and the Defender motivator, that might create a split priority, as the Creator loves to take risks and make new things, whereas the Defender likes to mitigate risk and have stability in their lives. Needless to say, these conflicts can also occur between other people. If someone in the team is very high Defender, and someone else is high Creator, then these two people are likely to disagree on a lot of things, because their values and priorities are going to be utterly different.


However, we need not even go to this deep level of analysis to get massive benefit from the Maps (we can leave that to the Maps experts!). There is an even more simple factor which we can explore in relation to “employee voice”, and that is whether their motivators align or clash with the identity of being a team itself. Some motivators are synergistic with teamwork, the most obvious example being the Friend, as their desire for belonging can truly “make a house a home” and create a sense of camaraderie and community within the team. If we were to look at purely the Friend motivator for each member of the team, and how adequately the motivator is met out of 10, that would tell us a lot about who feels like they are part of the team and a valued member, and who doesn’t!


Conversely, some motivators are less aligned with teamwork. Please note this doesn’t mean they can’t be in a team, but simply that it is not innate and may require more thought and work around it. The most obvious example would be the Spirit motivator, which is the desire for freedom and independence. If there are people in your team that have Spirit as their number one motivator, how motivated are they? If they are more motivated than the other team members, then does that mean they feel they have successfully broken the hold the group has on them? If they are less, do they feel cramped and constrained?


Looking at these two motivators will already tell us a lot about the team.



It is impossible to expect high levels of motivation when our leader is less motivated than we are: we take our cues from the leader.” – MAPPING MOTIVATION FOR ENGAGEMENT, JAMES SALE & STEVE JONES


We must remember that when we say “leaders set an example” we have to mean it. If leaders are demotivated, then it is likely employees will be too. If we have a team that is being managed by someone demotivated then we have to look very seriously into why this is happening and whether the current manager is the right person, and has the right energy, to lead a team. A point I have made numerous times in my blogs and books is that one of the primary, if not theprimary, role of a leader is to motivate their staff. If they can motivate them, then organisation, productivity, creativity, and profits all follow.


So, have you mapped your team, and if you have, how does your team stack up when you consider these three key aspects? What is the voice of your team telling you?




If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.




Teamwork is seemingly more important than ever in our current climate. Those who are at work, such as our frontline health workers and supermarket employees, need to band together to combat the challenges and demands that COVID-19 and the general populace pose (though they may already be experienced with the latter one!). For those who are working from home, and communicating with their colleagues remotely, we need to discover new ways of capturing some of the magic, energy, and dynamism of being in the same room together with teammates. It’s difficult to collaborate with people remotely, and even harder to remain a “team” in the process, yet the problems our modern world is throwing at us demand teamwork!


In my last article, we explored the four characteristics of real teams and how teams can achieve exponentially more than just a group of individuals. In this article, I want to give you a helpful way to measure just how strong your team is, as well as identify any potential weaknesses.


In my book, Mapping Motivation, there is an activity which asks you to write down answers to the following questions:


How important is teamwork in your work?


How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?


How is the effectiveness of your team(s) reviewed?


How directly have you been involved in training programmes run by your direct line manager to ensure team building?


How many of your line managers review the effectiveness of their team(s)?


These questions are extremely useful to answer in and of themselves, and can give you some idea as to how your team is getting on, and areas to work on. You can also ask your clients these questions to build a clearer picture of their teams. Each question follows on from the next. So, for example, one might ask a manager or team-leader “How important is teamwork in your work?”. If they say “It’s vitally important”, then that might spur us to ask the second question, “How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?” If teamwork is vitally important, then surely they will be investing in developing their teams! Each question follows the proceeding one in a logical train.


To take this one step further, even more powerful than simply looking for an answer such as “yes” or “very important”, would be to score these each out of 10. To provide an example, “How is the effectiveness of your team reviewed?” - an answer of 1 might mean, “not at all”, whereas an answer of 10 might mean that “you are regularly reviewed to a high standard and get lots of feedback”. Add the scores of all five questions up, and multiply the total by 2, to get a percentage score (%). You now have a percentage that indicates to what extent you are functioning as a team!


You can take this one step further by applying what we would call the “four quadrant” methodology to your percentage. The quadrants are as follows:


1 – 35% – Action Zone

This means that the “team” is not really a team at all, but really a group that is likely to fall apart. Urgent attention is required, or there is a risk of the “team” collapsing into complete anarchy. This is called the Action Zone because one needs to take immediate action!


36 – 60% – Risk Zone

If this were a motivational profile, or what we call a PMA (Personal Motivation Audit), it would mean that motivation levels are extremely low, and likely to fall further unless we shift our focus. Similarly, with this team review, it means that there is little sense of being a team here, and this is only likely to diminish further unless we take proper steps towards improving aspects of the team dynamic. What scores can we increase? What is the most urgent one to address (for example, a score below 3)?


61% - 80% - Boost Zone

This means that the team is, in general, working well together. They are a team in most senses. However, there is room for further improvement! Maybe look at the lowest question score and work on boosting it.


81% - 100% - Optimal Zone

This would be a team performing optimally, totally in sync, regularly reviewing what they’re doing, going on training courses, and feeling like a team. The only danger here is complacency and “taking the hands off the wheel”. On the contrary, when a team reaches optimal level, as with optimal levels of motivation, the key becomes maintaining this with careful, nurturing attention.


You now have a very easy way of assessing to what extent your team is a team. Whilst not 100% accurate, there is a lot to be said for asking people to put a number on things (in fact, Likert scales and the like are built on this principle); unless one is engaged in active and wilful deception, the subconscious tends to supply a pretty accurate rating. Now that you can measure where you’re at, and identify potential weaknesses, you’re on your way to creating a truly fabulous and collaborative team, whether in lockdown or otherwise!




If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.




Throughout the history of this Motivational Memo blog, and running through the Mapping Motivation series of books, we have discussed the importance and efficacy of creating, and nurturing, good teams. As stated in the first Mapping Motivation book, “Everybody knows that teams are important because there is a relentless confirmation of this fact in the media, in education, and throughout organizational life. Our everyday expectations are that people should be ‘team players’...” The fifth (and final) Mapping Motivation book, coming out in December 2020, will exclusively deal with teams in all their complex and wondrous glory. So, in order to prepare you for these new insights, I thought it would be worth recapping what we already have learned about teams on this journey.

Firstly, at a very simplistic level, we have to understand that a team is different to a group. A group is a number of people that have been lumped together, either because they are part of the same department, or through some vicissitude of fate (the members of a governing body or association, for example). A team, on the other hand, is not random or haphazard, but knows distinctly what it is. Teams are far more than the sum of their parts. Possibly the best example is that of a football team. We regularly see teams that have hardly a star player in their ranks defeat the giants of Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea – and often it is because eleven players working cohesively can easily outperform eleven players who are not working together, even if the individual talents of the latter are superior.

However, whilst it may be easy to grasp this, I like to make things specific so that we can not only just intellectually understand how teams look and feel, but perhaps understand how they work at a deeper level, and therefore how to create them ourselves! From a Maps perspective, there are four distinguishing characteristics of a team:

1. They have a clear remit or mission

2. They are interdependent

3. They have a belief in the efficacy of being a team and teamwork

4. They are accountable, both to each other, and to the whole organisation

There is much more that can be said about all of these four points (indeed, Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams, the final book, unpacks these in exhaustive and original detail), but you can hopefully already begin to see how these factors would shape a group of individuals into a team. As a side note, it is interesting that there is a (popular) sub-genre of Fantasy literature which is sometimes referred to as “men on mission” (forgive the gender bias, as “men” is certainly meant to mean “people”). This invariably sees an “elite team” of individuals assemble for common purpose, go through trials and tribulations together on their “quest”, and eventually see their end goal completed (though sometimes at great cost). The Fellowship of the Ring comes to mind, of course, but we have seen numerous recent examples of this. Virtually every Fast & Furious film is “men on mission”. The Star Wars spin-off Rogue One was certainly a “men on mission” narrative.

What’s interesting is all these “men on mission” stories not only describe a journey towards some end goal or destination, but also the journey of a group of individuals to becoming a team, which is evidently not a straightforward process! If it was, I suppose writers throughout the ages, including myself, would not have written about it at such length!

But what is the journey to becoming a team? Well, a rocky one, to start with. We cannot immediately expect people to work with perfect synergy. There are certain people in the world with whom we might form an immediate connection, but to expect it of a group of people is a mistake! People need time to get the measure of each other, to “suss each other out”, and if we are talking about teams of eight people or more (I would say the maximum is thirteen at a push, and beyond that number sub-teams or sub-groups form as cohesion fragments!), then people will need time to find their place in the group.

The journey to becoming a team can be described by this helpful sequence:

Forming – where people are brought together to undertake some remit

Storming – where there is clash as people try to make sense of the process, but this produces a “dip” in performance as people may reject the process and each other

Norming – where essential agreements and collaborations begin

Performing – where the team truly becomes a team and begins to produce results

Beyond ‘Performing’ we have two possibilities. Either the team starts

Conforming – where, if we have failed to give the team further input, they begin to conform and become a clique rather than a real team; the focus, then, rather becomes activities rather than achievements


Transforming – where the team begins to rejuvenate itself and sustain its team qualities, and so becomes capable of further transformative and effective work. This is rare but possible.

If we allow for the fact that things have to get worse before they can get better, and we have the courage to ride through the difficult stages, then the rewards are immense. As I said in Mapping Motivation, “Like anything worthwhile, [teams] are difficult to build and easily destroyed.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.




We exist in a time when the world is rapidly changing around us, and we in turn need to change in order to keep up. Organisations are currently in the process of trying to understand what a “new normal” might look, from both a societal and economic point of view (in an earlier blog, I mentioned that the key “missing” ingredient here is the motivational perspective). Whatever our situation, whether we are furloughed and awaiting a return to world, employed but in completely different circumstances to what we’re used to, currently jobless, freelance or self-employed, or running a business, one thing remains clear: we have to find a new way to operate to survive in this climate, whether survival means bringing in sufficient revenue as an organisation, avoiding succumbing to mental burnout and exhaustion, or finding another job.


The problem with change, however, is that so often we think we can just “will it” into being. I’m not even talking about people who daydream and don’t take action. I mean that, even when we take action, often we are unable to fully enact change. Our heart isn’t in it. The changes don’t “stick”. We’ve seen this before. A common example are people on diets, who manage to maintain the diet for weeks, sometimes months, but inevitably fall off. Or very strict exercise regimes, that seem to be so rewarding at first, but ultimately become unsustainable. There are many factors, of course, in why these changes don’t stick. One might be to do with the Japanese principle of “kaizen”. We have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew, which leads to “indigestion” of sorts, whereas if we practice kaizen, taking smaller “bite-size” steps, we might be in for greater longevity. However, I believe that there is one central issue that is deeper and more important than the techniques we deploy to instigate change, which I alluded to by saying “our heart isn’t in it”: we need an emotional experience.


Christopher Nolan’s 2010 thriller Inception is undoubtedly one of the truly great films of the last two decades. However, the reason I believe it to be great is not due to its dream-sequence visuals (although they’re impressive), the stellar performances of the cast, or even the complexity of its narrative. Rather, I think it’s brilliant because it highlights a profound truth that we all need to learn if we are to effectively instigate change, whether for ourselves or in our businesses.


In order to change, we have to have an emotional experience, a catharsis, if you will.


For those who have not seen the movie, the central concept is this: “inception” is a process by which an idea is inserted into someone’s mind by delving deep into layers of consciousness. The aim of our protagonist Cobb, played by the ferocious DiCaprio, is to plant an idea in the mind of a young heir to a global business monopoly (played by the enigmatic Cillian Murphy). The idea is for the heir, upon inheriting his father’s company, to dismantle the organisation. It is Tom Hardy’s character, Eames, who makes the brilliant observation that the idea is “too complex” to be inserted directly and needs to be broken down and turned into an emotion in order to take root. Eventually, they distil it down to the phrase “I am not my father”. Capitalising on the problematic and strained relationship between the young heir and his father, they realise that it is only by creating a healing narrative between father and son that the idea can blossom. In Cobb’s words, “Positive emotion trumps negative every time”. We all yearn for reconciliation. In an incredibly moving and well-acted scene, we see the young heir revisit the moment of his father’s death, but instead hear a different interpretation of the words his father uttered on his deathbed. This becomes the catalyst for change.


Psychologically, this is so true. When we are inspired by emotion, we move effortlessly and with replete energy towards our goals. We can change our behaviours drastically. Though negative emotions can inspire change (think of the images of animal cruelty that inspire people to become vegetarians or vegans), I believe Nolan was right when he said positive emotions are king, and even more likely to instigate longterm transformation.


But how can we do this in an organisational setting? How can we give our colleagues or employees a catharsis that inspires them to change the way they operate? Sadly, unlike in Inception, we lack the technology to enter people’s dreamscapes, and image-streaming an entire organisation would be strenuous and inconsistent to say the least! So, we need another approach.


Of course, I am biased, but I do genuinely believe Motivational Maps is one way to inspire that catharsis, as receiving one’s Map, and gaining self-insight (sometimes it is for the first time for an individual) can be a very emotive experience. Many of the Business Practitioners we have interviewed in our “Interview with a BP” series speak about the “aha” moment with their clients and Licensed Practitioners. It can even be an emotive experience when you subsequently come to do a second or third Map, as the shift in profile can reflect a change in beliefs which is very powerful. Whatever tool you choose to use to inspire, remember that an authentic and inspiring narrative, that reaches people on an emotional level, is far more likely to help your employees or colleagues change than all the data or technology in the world.


If you want to find out more about the Maps, where they come from, how they work, and how you can use them to improve your relationships with other people and most importantly yourself, then you can take a look at my book Mapping Motivation, which is a complete and comprehensive guide to the Maps!