Motivation vs. Inspiration

Motivation vs inspiration“Excellence endures and sustains. It goes beyond motivation into the realms of inspiration.” —Azim Premji

Webster’s definition of motivation is the process of motivating through force, stimulus, or influence. Inspiration is defined as the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. The words motivate and inspire are often used interchangeably but, they have very different meanings. So, do you want to motivate your employees or so you want to inspire them?

      The external

I think of motivation as an external force. Picture the carrot or the whip in getting the behavior you want. When you motivate employees, you get them to perform purely to receive a reward or to avoid punishment.

            The internal

I think of inspiration as an internal force. Picture excitement, pride, and being part of something bigger that influences behavior. When you inspire your employees they perform because they are internally driven to make a meaningful contribution.

Why it Matters

Motivation can provide a great incentive for achieving short-term results. But, for the long-haul, do you want employees going through the motions purely to receive a reward or to avoid punishment? Or, would you like employees who are loyal to you, dedicated to doing a good job because they are proud of their contributions, and inspired to be part of something great? The fact is, both motivation and inspiration play an important role in leadership. Motivate employees to achieve short-term goals; inspire employees to reach far beyond your vision.

So, what are you going to do?

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Author: lizstincelli

I am Liz Stincelli and I am passionate about recognizing, inspiring, and igniting the leader in each of us. I am the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where I specialize in helping management teams learn new ways of looking at problems and finding new approaches to discovering solutions. I hold a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. I offer 20+ years of pro-active operations management, problem-solving, team-building, human resources, accounting, and business administration experience in a variety of industries. I serve on the Editorial Review Board for the Independent Journal of Management and Production and the Journal of Managerial Psychology. I have also been a guest lecturer at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Westminster College. You can learn more about me by reading my blog here at: or Connect with me on Twitter @infinitestin, on Google+, and on LinkedIn. You can contact me by email at

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