We creative humans find motivation in very many different ways. There are so many questions surrounding motivation, from how we tap into it to whether it differs from a personal level or within a team dynamic. What do you need to fuel your motivation?

Well, to get some scope and solutions, we asked our senior superstars and lifelong leaders at Hyper Island to take an in-depth dive into their experiences as leaders in order to explore motivation. Here, you’ll find the words that have come directly from their motivational mouths regarding what motivation means to them, as well as their best practices for how to implement it into your working lives to achieve the optimal level of success.

Brace yourselves for a personal and motivational journey like no other. Here’s what they had to say.

Jump to:

» Anton Strömberg, Program Manager (Guider of students POV)

» Miranda Bachelder, Acting Commercial Director (Leader of people POV)

» Karin Engman Carlsson, CMO (Leader of people POV)

» Linn Carlsson Viuhkonen, Student Recruiter and Program Administrator for Upskill Programs (Guider of students POV)

Anton Strömberg, Program Manager

“We are social beings with brains that thirst for certainty, suddenly suspended in a reality with not enough social interaction and too much uncertainty.”


I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately—particularly about the lack thereof. I think many of us are struggling with our motivation these days. We’re working from home or from empty offices, and let’s not forget, many aren’t working at all. What does this do to our motivation? Those working from home are probably asking themselves every morning “Why should I get out of bed?”

Motivation for the individual

So how does motivation work? What is it that drives us—as individuals, teams, organizations? What are the internal and external factors that can drive motivation? When we don’t have motivation, what can we do to find it? How do I motivate myself? How do I motivate others? Can I build motivation into my team and organization? Right now, I honestly have more questions than I have answers, but asking the right question is often a good place to start a new journey.

Motivation can come from within, or from without, meaning, an individual can be driven by an internal force. They hold some goal, value, or sense of purpose and meaning that pushes them forward. They can also be motivated by external factors such as salary, benefits, status, or recognition. Furthermore, whether you’re reading this for yourself, as a leader of a team or an organization, what you need to know about motivation is this: people are driven by:

  • Having their needs met and
  • Striving for meaningful goals that are aligned with their values.

Simple, right? It, of course, gets more complicated in practice, but if there’s anything you should know, this is it.

Motivation in teams

When it comes to motivation in a team setting, I’ve come to realize that, even though the execution might be difficult, the equation is quite simple. As an individual, in relation to my team, if my most important needs are met, and I’m able to work towards meaningful goals that are aligned with my values, I will be motivated. If the opposite is true, I will be demotivated. Using myself as an example: when my needs for certainty and belonging are met, and when I can work towards goals that meet my personal purpose of making people’s lives lighter—using my core values of quality and change—then my motivation is high. As a leader of a team, in relation to the members of your team, this is what you need to keep your eye on.

If your team members feel that their needs are met, the goals of the team are motivating, meaningful, and aligned with their values, and they’re able to work towards these goals in an efficient way. They’ll be motivated and will lean into the team. Members will show up for you, for themselves, and for each other. As a leader, what else do you need? When the opposite is true, members will lean out of the team. Why bother being a part of the team when it’s easier to just do it yourself? If this sentiment takes hold in a team, unfortunately, you’re in trouble.

If you are a leader of a team or an organization, leading this work is the most important part of your job. Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead, defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.”

Motivation for managers and leaders

My advice is to firmly figure out individual and team values, needs, and goals; define them, and work towards them.

“I would argue that if you define your top three goals (individually and as a team) and prioritize and support them, you’ll lay the foundation for motivation.”


There are tons of studies on what motivates people and what employees are looking for. Here’s one example. DISCLAIMER: Yes, employees say that belonging, the ability to do a good job, recognition, influence, and growth are the key factors for their motivation. But without basic fair compensation and benefits, you’ll struggle to both acquire and retain top talent.

A controversial message to managers and leaders

Your most important task is to support your teams and the individuals within them to strive towards their goals. You can achieve this through financial, practical, and emotional means.

“You should strive to keep people as part of your organization for as long as you can, but, I would argue, also support them to leave when they can no longer find their motivation with you.”


Employment is a relationship that usually ends within three years, so why not make the best out of all that time, including the breakup?

If you know someone will leave, what’s the harm in supporting them to reach their goals, regardless of whether they will meet them during their time with your company or after? A motivated employee is both happier and more productive.

Resources to address values and needs

What are values, you ask? Well, a few examples could be dependability, reliability, loyalty, commitment, open-mindedness, consistency, and honesty. If you want to explore further, check out these very effective resources to help initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values:

With regards to needs, some examples of core human needs at work include status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

If you want to explore further, you can start by taking a look at the needs wheel and then go deeper by researching models such as FIRO and SCARF.

If you want simple and effective ways of setting meaningful goals that are aligned with your values, I would recommend reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. The most effective way of getting more motivated is simple: set a meaningful goal and start by taking the smallest possible step in the direction of that goal. Motivation doesn’t come just from setting a goal, it comes from making the journey there meaningful. And what is a journey if not a multitude of steps?

Miranda Bachelder, Acting Commercial Director

“Vulnerability in a leader will help the team to relate to you and want to be a part of the solution.”

Vulnerability as a leader

As most of us know, leadership is the one most important aspect of motivation at work. The popular saying is that “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses”. So how might you be a “good boss that makes people want to do good work and stay”?

When starting at Hyper Island six years ago, I was obsessed with acting the part of a well adjusted, level-headed professional who was unfazed by challenges and uncertainty. “Keep it together” was a common thought I had running through my mind when encountered with new and unfamiliar tasks. “Don’t let them see you sweat”, or else they might not think you are up to par. Seeing as I’d just started working at a place that challenges people to admit their “Stinky Fish” and share what’s really going on inside the “hidden area“, my new team quickly found out what I was up to and called me out on it.

So I had a choice to make: share my anxiety with my team and risk being exposed as an incompetent team member or keep on working on my facade. I chose to trust them and discovered what it felt like to let go of some of the control of how I was perceived by others around me.

The result?

I found myself liberated from a heavy layer of pretensions that I had about myself at work.

Motivating each other to succeed

A few years later, I began a journey as a leader of a team of student recruiters (still at Hyper Island). I found myself questioning how to “act the part” of a leader, being “strong and unfazed” when met with challenges and uncertainty. I contemplated the best ways for how I’d best ensure that my team trusted in my ability to lead them. And that same feeling of having to mask my true feelings came creeping over me. So, I was again faced with a decision of how to balance my professional persona with my true person. And again, I chose to trust that my team would accept me for the flawed human that I am, and I shared what was weighing on me at the moment.

The response I got cemented in me a belief that I still hold as the most important aspect of leadership:

“People follow people, not leaders.”


When I chose to be sincere, true, and open, it gave my team the chance to give support and offer their help. It meant that my problem became their problem, and that we truly joined forces in our team to overcome obstacles together. This is one major cornerstone for motivation at work: wanting to do good for yourself, for your team, and wanting your leader to succeed, because you genuinely like her and don’t want to see her fail.

Let’s flip it around.

If you can’t relate to your leader or you even want them to fail, then why would you care as much about your work? You’d probably do it because you cared about the subject matter at hand, or about your clients, or because it was an interesting problem to solve. But would you really participate with that same gumption and motivation as you would if people you liked had skin in the game?

So, here’s my advice to any leader reading this right now and thinking that it sounds scary or even counterintuitive to share your fears with your team:

Give it a try and see what happens.

At your next team meeting, share one uncomfortable feeling you have relating to a project or delivery, and watch your team closely; I’m pretty sure you’ll gain the support from someone unexpected.

Karin Engman Carlsson

“Sometimes I think it’s easier to motivate myself in a team or leader setting, i.e., if I don’t show up like the person I want my team to see then I can’t expect my team to step up either.”

Motivating others as a leader

For me as an individual, there’s a huge difference when it comes to motivation for doing good things for myself and for doing good things for others, especially in a leadership role.

I will admit that I think I am—potentially through upbringing or genetics—easily motivated. I easily can see the fun and benefit of doing something, but more often than not have to work on my motivation for doing the nitty gritty to drive a project to completion.

Lately I’ve been thinking about serving others as a driver of motivation, i.e., my motivation to tackle challenging, uncomfortable conversations or tasks can increase when I visualize serving a higher purpose or my team or company by taking them on.

Research and resources for approaching motivation

I agree with the notion of the Six Types of Working Geniuses by Pat Lencioni, which is that you have two or six working geniuses that are naturally your strengths and where you feel motivated if you are in a place where you get to practice them. Also, the opposite rings true that you possess two that are your frustrations that’ll challenge your motivation if you have to do it time and time again. For many leaders, we have to do a bit of all of these, but if we can build teams with diverse strengths and empower our people to use these strengths, then we can spend more of our time in the motivating and rewarding space and allow others to shine in the non-motivating space.

The Seven Elements of Employee Motivation is a piece of research that I think makes sense, and I believe it is part of how I approach motivation in the perspective of me as a leader who needs to create a motivated team.

Linn Carlsson Viuhkonen

“Motivation to me also means having a motive—a need, desire, want, or drive, and finding ways to stimulate yourself or each other to achieve goals.”

Motivation to me means both the motivation from within; my own drive to not be dependent on anyone else, but then there’s also motivation that comes from others.

Maintaining motivation

When I think of motivation, I think of myself as being inspired, eager to find new ideas or solutions, seeing myself as energetic.

Being a very social individual, I find a great source of motivation in motivating others or inspiring others.

I think that the best way to maintain motivation involves the small things we do in our everyday lives. It can be beneficial to break down large tasks into smaller ones to feel that your workload is manageable. Encourage yourself to think about the positive things that you do during work, i.e., don’t be too hard on yourself.

“I strongly believe that finding the smaller things in life can help you maintain motivation from a long-term perspective.”


Continuous learning fuels motivation

I think lack of motivation comes from being tired or not feeling well. On the contrary, it can also enhance motivation. In terms of motivation at work, I believe that I have a need to constantly learn new things, and when I see a repetitive pattern of the exact same tasks every day without any improvement, then my motivation can decline. I also like to get continuous feedback, both positive and for areas of improvement to better guide me in what I need to work on even more. I also have a need of working out every day to maintain motivation. I found an article on it that said “[Working out gives you] those feel-good chemicals released in the brain that are responsible for that “I-feel-freaking-amazing” rush you get after a great gym session”.

Being a competitive and social individual, I know that if I don’t see the results I’m hoping for being exceeded, or I don’t see people for a longer period of time, my motivation level goes down. When I am lacking motivation, I’m less energetic and creative. Then again, those challenges to work harder in order to achieve goals do motivate me.

When I am lacking motivation, I know that being encouraged by others motivates me. Receiving trust, gaining more responsibilities at work, and facing new challenges increases my motivation levels. I also go to YouTube for inspiration from highly successful people or read books on the same topic.

“Knowing if people are struggling with motivation can be harder these days because we don’t see each other, which means you need to be even more conscious about your colleagues and what they say.” 


Generally, I motivate people based on what I know (If I know) what gets their motivation going or what makes them excited. For instance, some people are results-oriented, so I may encourage them to look back on previous achievements and how they could strive to perform better to exceed these results. Spotting someone struggling with motivation could mean them showing signs of tiredness, reduced interest, trouble concentrating etc. 

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Article updated on: 12 March 2024