(File pix) If you are internally or intrinsically driven, there is something inside of you that pushes you to work. Archive image for illustration purposes only. Reuters Photo

I was chatting with a friend a few days ago as he navigated through some work and life issues. As we talked, I felt he needed to know the difference between wanting something, and needing it.

Here's a parallel.

I might want a Mercedes Benz car, but I don't exactly need one, do I? On the other hand, I need oxygen. Without a doubt, I know I must oxygen for my survival. But, I realise that I have never consciously thought about wanting it.

I have, on the other hand, wanted the Mercedes Benz.

Your wants and your needs can sometimes get confused and blurred, but really, they are different.

I know that I need to work to generate the income that sustains my lifestyle choices. Although, when I think about it, the actual amount you require for your needs are quite moderate.

You need a place to sleep that is also safe; at least one nutritious meal a day; unhindered access to potable water; and perhaps you might also need recreational ability from time to time.

The money you generate is “needed” for this. The rest are your “wants”.

Discussing this with my friend made me think about how people who are successful at work, operate.

I realised that they all seem to “want” to work. They don’t do it just because they “need” to do it. I have never met anyone who is successful in a vocation, who complains with any seriousness about the work that they have to do.

You need to work to sustain yourself, but are you happy to show up for work, each day?

What drives a person to do what they do?

If you are internally or intrinsically driven, there is something inside of you that pushes you to work. Conversely, if you are externally or extrinsically motivated, something outside brings you to work.

For instance, my intrinsic motivation for my work is about self-mastery. I have the inherent need to know that that I am a specialist, and relevant in a particular area.

In my case, this revolves around leadership training, and people development.

I am also sure many of you, like me, are also driven by autonomy. I want to be left alone to pursue my interests, while being rewarded for working with others.

And, I am purpose-driven. I don’t mean just connected to the purpose of my organisation or my clients. I am vested in my personal purpose. I know why I work. It is clear to me.

Of course, I also have extrinsic motivation. The incentives, the money, and range of other carrots that are dangled in front of me, motivate me.

However, I find that I work best, when I find a balance between both these kinds of stimulus.

I believe the best companies in the world have figured this out, and have found ways and means of offering their teams an inspiring balance of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

They have realised that their employees must actually want to come in to work. If they just need it, the company will be mediocre at best.

Multinational technology giant, Google, has cracked the code in finding this balance.

Their example has been repeatedly shared by management experts, and touted as the best model of employee motivation. Google’s official work culture philosophy is “…to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world…”

The company goes to extreme lengths to make its employees constantly content. At their headquarters, employees have access to massage therapists, bike repair services, and, they have a phenomenal benefits package.

This is quite possibly the reason why in 2014, Google was named “Best Company to Work For” by the Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune Magazine.

However, does this mean that you must turn your companies to Google?

Trying to copy Google is arguably what many employees hope their bosses would do. But to be frank, your company probably doesn’t have the necessary resources, and profit margins to do it.

Being a great workplace is crucial to sustainable success, but you don’t have to copy Google, in its entirety.

As individuals, think about what type of work culture is most suitable for you. Decide what your “wants” are and be clear why you want them. And then choose to work for companies that can offer you that platform, or environment.

If you are a leader, what’s important is that you focus on learning about your team. Look at their habits, their daily activities, and see how you can help them improve. Examine and discern who is willing to give their best, and who is happily coasting under the radar, and slacking. And, make the change.

Great workplaces offer their workforce fair benefits, skills development, and clear growth pathways. They also offer employees opportunities to connect with local communities, and provide service. This is something that the millennial generation finds especially appealing.

Make sure you want to come to work; not just that you need to work. You will produce great personal results, this way.


Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”