Intrinsic Motivation remains the Key for Success

Copyright © 10/2023 ❘ The Enterneers®

Everyone knows the feeling when you must motivate yourself to accomplish an important task and overcome inner barriers. Not every job is fun for us, and that is completely normal. Conversely, we also understand how easy and motivated we are to complete tasks that arouse our interest, correspond to our strengths and preferences, or promise highly desirable outcomes. As an entrepreneur or executive, you should know this fact well and leverage it within your company’s organization. Top companies employ top talents with high levels of motivation and enthusiasm.

People’s thoughts and actions are strongly shaped by their emotions, values, experiences and views. This inner drive is called intrinsic motivation. In contrast, there are numerous external influences, such as external expectations, or demands from the environment, that lead to extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation, therefore, comes from within an individual. It arises from one's own personality and can therefore be described as the most important and intensive form of motivation for a person. As a rule, only this form of motivation leads to peak personal performance and enables individuals to overcome major personal obstacles. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation usually only leads to temporary or limited performance improvement. Also, beyond a point, it is not sustainable. Consequently, very successful companies often boast a large number of employees who have strong intrinsic motivation and who contribute to the company’s peak performance.



The term ‘intrinsic’ comes from the Latin word ‘intrinsecus’ and means something like inside or inward. An individual performs an activity with intrinsic motivation if they are personally convinced of its benefits, characteristics and properties, or if the activity gives them pleasure and piques their interest. This form of motivation also arises when a person perceives a task as a challenge, the successful completion of which brings them closer to their goals.

Intrinsic motivation thus arises primarily from authentic dedication and the enjoyment of a task. It leads to personal passion, and does not require a dedicated form of reward or special recognition for its emergence. It also does not arise from regulations, contracts or sanctions, and it never arises from external pressure.

Companies interested in employing as many intrinsically motivated people as possible must deal with individual personalities throughout the employee life cycle. These personalities usually undergo changes during an employee’s life phases. For example, young aspiring people have different inner drivers than people with family responsibilities or those in the last phases of their working lives. Companies are therefore well advised to take a close look at the motivational moments and driving forces of their top performers, starting from the recruitment process to the departure of their employees.

Depending on the personality profile, the following characteristics contribute to increasing intrinsic motivation in the workforce:

  • Self-organisation, and working on one's own responsibility (being able to find solutions oneself, taking decisions regarding work methods and tools, developing an awareness of one's own work responsibility, having a sense of voluntariness).
  • Value systems and a sense of achievement (being able to identify oneself with something, taking pride in the work done, recognising the meaning and benefit of one's own work).
  • Social and emotional involvement in a corporate community (being significant as a person for others and vice versa, feeling recognised and respected, being able to contribute personal values and views).
  • Talent-oriented work planning (being able to actively use and contribute one's skills and interests, showing pleasure and curiosity in the assigned tasks, and being able to further develop one's strengths).
  • Individual career planning (being able to achieve one’s professional goals through one's work, making progress towards one's career goals by successfully completing tasks).
  • Eliminating negative stress (being able to positively assess one's wellbeing, being able to realise the necessary quality and performance of one's own work, even without external pressure and sanctions).


The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.





Companies often achieve the exact opposite of what they actually want to promote through certain actions or characteristics. A classic example of this is the use of incentives. It is not uncommon for financial incentives, commissions or performance-based promotions to lead to negative stress, artificial pressure and motivation reversal. Individuals may be motivated to act only because of their dependence on the incentives and their keenness to earn them. Their intrinsic motivation is suppressed, and they carry out their activities without any recognisable passion. In some cases, people are even inhibited in their work design and decision-making by the mechanisms of incentives. A similar situation arises when there is a constant fear of losing one's job, being discredited or being punished. In addition, there are possible factors from the private environment of employees that constitute extrinsic motivation. These include relationship problems, family dynamics, financial problems and difficulties within society or with the law.

Entrepreneurs should know and understand intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as well as their causes and effects. They should foster sufficient awareness of these factors within their corporate organisations, with particular emphasis on demanding active engagement from executives and the People Management team in addressing the issue of motivation. 


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