Harnessing the Power of Intrinsic Values: Navigating the Perils of Extrinsic Motivation

Stoke Consulting - Development of a New Electronic and Software Product | Management Consultants

Understanding the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic values in leadership is crucial for shaping organisational culture, driving sustainable growth, and fostering an engaged, resilient workforce.


At Stoke Consulting, while supporting business strategy and executive coaching, we are fortunate to witness firsthand the profound impact that leadership values have on the operational and strategic outcomes of organisations. Here are some useful insights.


The Essence of Intrinsic Values in Leadership


Intrinsic values in leadership are driven by internal rewards and personal fulfilment. These values include a deep sense of purpose, passion for work, commitment to personal growth, and genuine concern for others’ welfare. Leaders embodying these values are motivated by making a meaningful difference, achieving personal goals, and contributing to the greater good without worrying too much about others’ opinions. These leaders excel in self-actualisation, teamwork, and are ambitious about achieving what is important to them.


The impact of intrinsic values on leadership effectiveness cannot be overstated. Leaders who operate from a place of intrinsic motivation tend to:


  1. Foster a Positive Organisational Culture: They create environments where creativity, innovation, and genuine collaboration flourish. Their passion and commitment are contagious, inspiring those around them to pursue excellence with enthusiasm and dedication.
  2. Drive Sustainable Performance: By focusing on long-term goals and aligning deeply with the organisation’s mission, these leaders build strategies that are sustainable and resilient in the face of challenges.
  3. Enhance Employee Engagement: Their genuine concern for the team’s well-being and personal growth fosters a positive sense of belonging and loyalty, leading to higher levels of engagement and productivity.


The Risks of Overemphasizing Extrinsic Values


Conversely, leaders predominantly motivated by extrinsic values often focus on external achievements and validation. They may prioritise “looking good” or “being good” over actually “doing good.” While extrinsic rewards such as bonuses, titles, and other forms of recognition are important, prioritising them can lead to several detrimental outcomes:


  1. Short-termism: Leaders may prioritise short-term gains over long-term sustainability, potentially compromising future viability.
  2. Reduced Innovation: A culture overly focused on external rewards can stifle creativity and innovation. Employees may fear taking risks or deviating from established norms, hindering breakthrough innovations.
  3. Eroded Trust and Morale: Self-serving leaders erode trust and damage morale, leading to disengagement and lack of commitment among team members. Team members often spend significant time looking over their shoulders, wondering what is coming next from their dysfunctional and competitive colleagues.


Cultivating Intrinsic Leadership Values


Becoming a leader driven by intrinsic values involves self-reflection, personal development, and aligning actions with core values. It sometimes requires the courage to be disliked or disagreed with when standing up for what you know is right. Here are some strategies to cultivate intrinsic leadership values:


  1. Reflect on Your Purpose: Regularly reflect on your deeper purpose and how it aligns with your work to rekindle passion and drive meaningful actions.
  2. Focus on Personal Growth: Embrace opportunities for continuous learning and development, fostering a growth mindset that prioritises intrinsic rewards.
  3. Build Authentic Relationships: Prioritise genuine connections with your team. Understanding and supporting their aspirations can reinforce intrinsic motivations and strengthen team cohesion.



While extrinsic rewards play a role in clarifying expectations and achieving results, a leadership approach rooted in intrinsic values offers a more sustainable path to success. By fostering a culture that values purpose, personal growth, and genuine concern for others, leaders can build resilient organisations capable of navigating business complexities with integrity and vision.


Ready to accelerate your leadership journey? Contact Stoke Consulting today to explore how we can help you lead with intrinsic values.


Chris Read
Stoke Consulting

Leveraging his extensive leadership and entrepreneurial background, Chris consistently leads high-performing teams of leaders to outstanding business achievements. He excels in unravelling the intricacies of challenging business scenarios, crafting strategic plans and fostering deep trust including during executive coaching. This comprehensive and high integrity approach significantly elevates business performance for his clients, helping them to exceed expectations. Chris’ experience includes successfully leading multiple $1B+pa businesses across nine countries and 800+ reports to starting, building and selling his own e-commerce business, all the while building high performing teams of leaders.