Emotional Intelligence: Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the ability to self-motivate, with a focus on achieving internal goals, as opposed to being moved by external praise and reward or fear of retribution.

Individuals who are able to motivate themselves in this way have a tendency to be more committed and goal-focused. These are the individuals we look for when we screen applicants.

Motivation combines drive, initiative, commitment, optimism, and perseverance to accomplish something beyond money or recognition.

In business ownership, for example, someone may be initially motivated simply for the recognition or bragging rights, but that level of motivation wouldn’t last long once the reality of the task sets in.

There has to be a deeper meaning involved, and a commitment to yourself and/or others (like family) to make all the sacrifice and struggle worthwhile.

This is where the emotional intelligence piece comes in. Although there are certainly people who are highly motivated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are able to exhibit or understand the other components of emotional intelligence such as empathy and self-awareness. When things get truly difficult, these individuals will not be able to dig deep and pull through.

Individuals who are not self motivated are usually driven to accomplish for personal or financial gain. We see them often, jumping from one thing to the next, not able to commit.

A well rounded and truly emotionally intelligent individuals will exhibit all of the following traits: Self-Regulation, Self-Awareness, Empathy, Social Skills, and (of course) Motivation.

Whether it’s in relation to work, personal goals or health, an emotionally intelligent individual understands the deeper meaning of aspirations and the self-motivation skills required to achieve them. This depth of understanding helps when they hit a wall and struggle to advance.

Obviously emotional intelligence significantly impacts motivation, giving it the depth it needs to survive when it's not fun, when you would rather not and when it gets hard. Because life does throw obstacles up and nothing ever goes as planned, someone who is primed for success will have both, EI and Motivation, to get them up, over, around or under and obstacle that stands in their way. Both are required for success.

Goleman (1995) identified four elements that contribute to motivation:

  • Personal drive to improve

  • Commitment to the goals we set for ourselves

  • Readiness to act on opportunities that present themselves to us

  • Resiliency

Magnano et al (2016) asserts that motivation is the basic psychological process we use to stimulate ourselves into action to achieve a desired outcome. Whether it’s picking up the remote to change the channel or dedicating hundreds of hours to delivering a project, without motivation we’d be unable to act.

Basic motivation arouses, energizes, directs and sustains behavior and performance. Intrinsic motivation, that is self-motivation, comes from within, pushes us to achieve our full potential.

As an added bonus, an Emotionally Intelligent individual not only possesses the skills for self-motivation but also the skills required to motivate others, a useful talent to have in leadership positions.

The value and benefits of emotional intelligence are vast in terms of personal and professional success, as previously discussed in our posts on Self Awareness and Self Regulation. In the coming weeks we'll touch on the remaining two; Social Skills and Empathy.

From our view, Emotionally Intelligence should be considered a core competency in construction.

It supports the advancement towards educational and professional success, improves interpersonal relationships (both professionally and personally), and boosts communication skills, all of which are vital when building.

Bar-On (1997) goes so far as to suggest that people with higher Emotional Intelligence tend to perform better than those with lower Emotional Intelligence in life overall, regardless of IQ.

Schutte et al (2001) found that, over a series of studies, there were significant links between high Emotional Intelligence and more successful interpersonal relations. Those participants who exhibited higher levels of EI also showed a greater propensity for empathetic perspective-taking, communication, and cooperation with others, all core skills routinely used in construction, from labor to ownership.

Additionally, a jobsite represents a distinct social community, separate from our personal lives. If utilized appropriately it can become an incubator that allows trainees to understand themselves and others better, communicate more effectively, and cope with a wide variety of challenging and stressful situations with support.

Utilizing and developing emotional intelligence onsite can significantly improve the personal and social capabilities of workers.

So how do Construction, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership relate?

There is an undeniable relationship between Emotional Intelligence and the way Foreman, Supers and Project Managers manage their crews.

While self-motivation is central to achieving one’s goals, emotionally intelligent leaders within a crew can also impact their workers performance and motivation. The capacity to recognize the emotions and, in turn, the concerns of others is an invaluable skill to have at your disposal when implementing the most effective ways to motivate teams and individuals.

Leaders with higher emotional intelligence have the tools at their disposal to not only manage stress but to also recognize and address stress in others. This awareness can trigger situational training to defuse a situation at its infancy, instead of waiting for it to develop and explode.

In terms of managing stress and building relationships, the link between those skills and job performance is clear, with stress management positively impacting job commitment and satisfaction. The ability to better cope with stress and anxiety, if one can recognize the emotions, can then be addressed and managed effectively (Carmeli, 2003). Helping your workers cope with stress and teaching them how to manage it while working builds trust.

Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the value of employees who can adapt, cope with change, empathize, manage stressful situations and learn from mistakes. These employees make tremendous leaders, when taught to coach those under them.

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