McClelland’s Motivational Model
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee
How do you make sense of what’s driving a manager or the people around you that you work with everyday? If you understand what’s driving people, you can better understand the behaviors, blend your behaviors, and anticipate situations.
David McClelland created a simple model to help explain these drivers. He explains what drives people’s in terms of three needs:
Basically, McClelland explain how the needs for achievement, power, and affiliation affect the actions of people from a managerial context. It’s a simple lens, but you can use this lens to help you understand what’s going on around you.
Need for Achievement
A person motivated by achievement seeks mastery of tasks or situations. They are driven by personal achievement over the rewards of success. The job represents an end in itself, and monetary rewards are simply an indicator of results. They are driven to perform something better than it’s been done before. They seek situations where they can put their skills to the test and get rapid feedback on their results. They seek situations where they work on challenges where the success depends on their results, not on luck or the actions of others. In other words, they only accept risk when they believe their personal contributions will make a difference in the final outcome
Need for Power
A person motivated by power seeks to have impact, be influential, or control others. They enjoy having status or being “in charge.” They care more about gaining influence or prestige over others, than they do about effective performance. They are willing to take risks for the opportunity to gain power.
Need for Affiliation
A person motivated by affiliation seeks to be liked and accepted by other people. They prefer spending time creating and maintaining social relationships and being part of groups. They prefer cooperative situations over competitive ones.There desire to be liked by everyone gets in the way of taking decisive action. Stressful situations increase the need for affiliation. However, there’s a catch. People only want other people around when they can help deal with the stressor. They don’t want other people around when it would increase negative aspects, such as embarrassment.
What’s Driving You?
While your motivation varies based on situations, you might find that you have some patterns that show up time and again. For example, do you feel the need to achieve great things or have a job well done? … Do you tend to feel the need to have status or be in charge of others? … Do you find yourself feeling the need to be liked by everybody?
How To Use This
McClelland’s work suggests that those in the top management positions should have a high need for power and a low need for affiliation and that while individuals with a need for achievement can make good managers, they’re not suited to top management positions.
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