Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

How can I maintain intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and values?
– Gafiah, Executive School Principal, Melbourne

Dear Gafiah

What a great question, thank you.

Recently I read a great book called 10 Things Schools Get Wrong (and how we can get them right). I highly recommend it.

One of the 10 things the authors suggest schools get wrong is an over-reliance on ‘rewards’ as a way to coerce students to comply. I suspect it’s much the same for teachers and staff, or any human being for that matter. Rewards are things like grades, verbal praise, social media likes, pay rises, bonuses, awards, free lunches and even state-of-the-art facilities.

While extrinsic motivators can work in the short-term, it’s not long before the recipient is looking for the next reward to feel satisfied. If the rewards are taken away or not offered according to the recipients expectations, disappointment and disengagement sets in. Extrinsic motivators in the long run can do more harm than good. Leaders tend to priortise extrinsic motivators over intrinsic ones because they’re easier to offer.

The Great Resignation is hitting many Australian schools right now. The pandemic has caused many teachers to ask the big questions; What really matters to me? Am I living my best life? What am I being called to do for the rest of my working life? And then there are the smaller, simpler questions; How can I spend more time with my family? How can I have more autonomy to make decisions? Why is there not more love and respect in the lunch room? These are both big and small intrinsic motivators.

Gafiah, the most loved school leaders are the ones who invite their people (students and staff) to identify and articulate their own individual intrinsic motivators. The best part is, they don’t need to quit their jobs to find what drives them. They can start where they are and bring it to their work. All you need to do is ask.

With love and purpose

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