Motivating your managers: What’s the right strategy?

By Laura M. Graves
Clark University

Kristin L. Cullen-Lester, Marian N. Ruderman & William A. Gentry
Center for Creative Leadership

Houston F. Lester
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


To truly optimize motivation, organizations must understand and address the wide range of motives that managers have for tackling their jobs. Center for Creative Leadership research identifies six different motivational profiles (combinations of motives) that are common across managers and examines the links between these profiles and managers’ job attitudes. Our results indicate it is critical that managers’ profiles include some internal motivation. External motivation per se is not bad, but lack of internal motivation appears to be problematic. Managers who lack internal motivation are likely to have unfavorable job attitudes and may leave the organization.


Graves, L. M., Cullen-Lester, K. L., Ruderman, M. N., Gentry, W. A., & Lester, H. F. (2016). Motivating your managers: What’s the right strategy [White paper]. Center for Creative Leadership.

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