How to Think Like an Engaging Leader


In studying hundreds of thousands of people from countries around the world, researchers at Burnham Rosen Group discovered that of the 300 positive motives that influence people’s behavior, 80% of all people are driven by some combination of just three motives. And more than 9 out of 10 white-collar professionals are internally motivated by the same three.

Thought patterns of a great leader.For most of us, one or more of these three motivations influence your thoughts and actions:

  • Achievement: Interested in excellence, completing tasks, efficiency, beating competition, beating past personal records, being unique, and career advancement.
  • Affiliation: Interested in friendship, close personal relationships, being liked and accepted, and avoiding being disliked by anyone.
  • Impact (also known as Power): Interested in influence, influential relationships, and making a difference in people’s lives.

The combination of these motives that influences your own thought patterns has a direct and definite impact on your success in life and career. For example, if Achievement dominates your thought patterns, you stand a good chance of success in roles such as a salesperson or entrepreneur. If Affiliation, you might be successful in a helping role, such as a social worker, teacher, or clinical psychologist. And if Impact, you could be successful in roles such as a business leader, politician, author, artist, thought leader, or architect (and also any sales position where consultative sales and long-term relationships are more important than quota-driven, one-time sales).

These thought patterns are programmed in you during childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood. But you can learn to adopt thought patterns that can bring you more success. To become an engaging leader at work, in your family, or in your community, the Impact motive is a key thought pattern to develop.

Note: Burnham Rosen offers a three-day workshop to leverage this information to become a superior leader. The core concept is that to create lasting, meaningful change, you must change the way you think. I completed this workshop in November 2010 and highly recommend it. For a detailed description of the Burnham Rosen Group’s workshop go to or contact for more information.

Which do you think you are most motivated by: Achievement, Affiliation, or Impact?

For more about using these three needs to be a better leader, you may be interested in:

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