Executive Performance & Potential: Motivational Drivers

By Cognadev on October 29, 2019

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Authors: Paul Barrett & Maretha Prinsloo

 

In the final part of this three-blog series we look specifically at the Motivational Profile (MP) assessment results of the executives involved (as described in the first blog) and the relationships between the assessed attributes and executive geographic location, job-performance, and potential ratings.

 

Some Background Details

The MP uses archetypes or metaphors to assess a person’s motivational drivers, aspects of emotional functioning, energy themes, defence mechanisms and various personality aspects for purposes of placement, development and coaching. The MP also indicates aspects of a personal psychological functioning that may derail job performance in certain roles.

Given the eclectic nature of the MP assessment and the number and depth of the constructs measured as well as the implications of their interrelationships, only four of the constructs measured by the MP are briefly introduced here to indicate aspects of motivational drive that tend to characterise high performance executives globally. The implications of the interrelationships between the constructs, are not discussed here. The constructs dealt with here include: Life script; Motivations Drive as indicated by the Head-Heart-Feet concept of Lazarus and Shalit; the Shadow index derived from Jungian theory; and Dynamic Personality Patterns as based on the Enneagram.

Further aspects that are measured by the MP but which are not covered here, include Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Energy Themes based on the work of Myss, Persona (Jung) or front and back-stage of self-representation of Goffman; links to existing personality tests such as the MBTI, Giotto and Belbin, and the person’s narrative and metaphorical self-descriptions.

 

1. Life Scripts and executive geographic location

The various roles, archetypes or metaphors that a person selects for their life, work and relationships, and the way in which these are prioritised and implemented, as measured by the MP, can be grouped to reflect specific underlying themes or life scripts. These life scripts indicate general patterns of behaviour organised around identity-related goals and purposes.

The following 15 themes have been identified qualitatively to reflect Life Scripts: Interdependent, Intuitive, Experiential, Intentional, Accepting, Optimistic, Pragmatic-functional, Principled, Transcendent, Passionate, Creative, Free and Responsible, Adaptable, Compassionate and Intellectual.

The positive energies associated with these life scripts are identified and the most dominant theme which emerges for an individual, described by the MP report in the following way:

The top six life scripts most prevalent among the executives from four regions as included in this study are shown below, plotting the frequency of occurrence of a life script as a percentage of the total number of executives within a region.

The definitions of the six most prevalent Life Scripts are:

  • Intuitive: characterised by sensitivity to, and openness towards ideas, insights and incoming stimuli.
  • Intentional: the tendency to apply a goal-directed and committed approach.
  • Intellectual: a rational, informed, theoretically interested approach.
  • Principled: a tendency not to compromise on own beliefs and values.
  • Adaptable: a tendency to take on and invest in many different roles in one’s personal and professional life.
  • Compassionate: this indicates a family focus and empathic or interpersonally skilled approach which includes the capacity to listen and show goodwill towards others.

Here it can be concluded that high performance executives across regions show a people orientation and interpersonal skills; and are highly Intentional and goal directed; as well as Intellectually inclined.

 

1.1 Life Scripts and Performance ratings

As in part 1 of this blog series, because India and South American performance ratings are so very different from the other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. Again, we select only the most prevalent life-scripts for executives who meet and exceed expected performance levels: for this analysis, just five. For each rating, the frequency of a specific life script is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all five life scripts’ frequencies. The definitions of the most prevalent Life Scripts are the same as in Section 1.

It seems that the life scripts of those that meet versus exceed performance expectations can be differentiated further in terms of their degree of interpersonal orientation, goal direction and ethical awareness. However, perceptions of performance (as opposed to true performance) are possibly affected by the interpersonal skill, goal orientation and moral inclination displayed by the subject.

 

1.2 Life Scripts and Potential ratings

As in part 1 of this blog series, because India and South American potential ratings are so very different from these other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. Again, we select only the most prevalent life-scripts for executives possessing a potential rating; for this analysis, just five. For each rating, the frequency of a specific life script is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all five life scripts’ frequencies. The definitions of the most prevalent Life Scripts are the same as in Section 1.

Relatively similar findings were obtained for those rated as having stable versus high potential, although the perception of intentionality seems an important criterion for high-potential rated executives.

 

2. The “Head-Heart-Feet” attributes and executive geographic location

In the MP, the constructs central to Shalit’s and Lazarus’s approach to understanding motivation are incorporated and measured by the person’s selection of particular roles, archetypes or metaphors as well as by tracking the manner in which the person prioritises, shows satisfaction with and controls the implementation of those particular roles or metaphors in their lives. Thus, differentiation (the cognitive aspect), involvement (the affective or emotive aspect) and control (the conative and action component) receive attention. This area of the assessment focuses on the individual in 3 settings: life, work and interpersonal relationships and the dimensions of cognition, emotion and action, and are depicted in terms of a figure with:

  • a head (representing the cognitive approach to prioritisation)
  • a heart (representing the level of affective or emotional involvement and energy typically shown by the individual)
  • feet (representing the conative aspect or self-perceived will to take action and control the implementation of the selected roles to achieve results)

Prioritisation (head), emotional involvement (heart) and results orientation (feet) are treated as variable and are assigned three levels (low, medium, high). These constructs (as well as positive versus negative attitudes) are graphically depicted for life, work and relationships on a 5-point scale in the MP report:

 

The scores can be interpreted in the following way:

 

2.1 The “Head-Heart-Feet” attributes and executive geographic location

The graph below shows the frequencies of “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” score-classes as a percentage of the total number of score-classes for a country.

For most of the regional executive groups in this study there is a strong preference for a detailed, logical-analytical approach to problem solving. In the case of India, however, a more balanced approach seems to prevail.

Almost all the executives involved showed a strong energetic and/or emotionally mature approach and emotional involvement with their work.

A clear tendency to implement and control issues seems to emerge. In the case of the South American group this was less prevalent and a more mature, balanced and flexible approach characterised this group.

 

2.2 The “Head-Heart-Feet” attributes and Performance ratings

As in part 1 of this blog series, because India and South American performance ratings are so very different from other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. For each rating, the frequency of a particular level (low, medium, or high) is expressed as a percentage of the total frequency of all levels for a performance rating category.

 

 

In terms of the performance ratings, it seems that most high performing executives are characterised by a logical-analytical cognitive approach, a mature and/or energetic and emotionally involved orientation towards their work and a tendency to implement and control issues.

 

2.3 The “Head-Heart-Feet” attributes and Potential ratings

As in part 1 of this blog series, because India and South American potential ratings are so very different from other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. For each rating, the frequency of a particular level (low, medium, or high) is expressed as a percentage of the total frequency of all levels for a potential rating category.

 

 

Executives with stable /static versus high potential ratings showed relatively similar motivational profiles characterised by a logical-analytical cognitive approach, medium to high levels of emotional involvement in their work and action orientation.

 

3. The MP Shadow Index and executive geographic location

A person’s everyday functioning in the roles they selected encompasses both accepted as well as denied, repressed, negative or “hidden” aspects. The Shadow index specifies a person’s degree of awareness of these mental and emotional aspects. Five ordered-class indicators represent the particular qualities of a respondent inferred from MP assessment performance:

  1. Shows a substantive degree of introspection and self-awareness. In addition, people with this score seem to understand and accept themselves and others.
  2. The person seems mostly aware of both their personality strengths and developmental areas.
  3. They seem to be relatively aware of their own strengths and developmental areas. However, they may occasionally find themselves responding in ways that are generally out of character, thereby surprising themselves and others.
  4. While the person may be aware of certain personal strengths and developmental areas, they seem to prefer not focusing on and addressing problematic behaviour patterns.
  5. The person denies their own psychological developmental areas and may even be suppressing awareness of these vulnerabilities. They may therefore avoid critical self-reflection and potentially hurtful criticism from others.

The shadow index is graphically depicted in the MP report as:

 

It thus seems that the executives were generally characterised by moderate or below moderate levels of self-awareness or self-insight. Very few showed a high degree of self-insight, transcendence and the acceptance of own strengths and weaknesses.

 

3.1 The MP Shadow Index and Performance ratings

As in part 1 of this blog series, because India and South American performance ratings are so very different from these other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. For each rating, the frequency of a specific Shadow Index score is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all five Shadow Index frequencies.

 

3.2 The MP Shadow Index and Potential ratings

As above, because India and South American potential ratings are so very different from these other countries’ ratings, we had to exclude their data from these analyses. For each rating, the frequency of a specific Shadow Index score is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all five Shadow Index frequencies.

It seems that relatively average degrees of self-awareness characterised all the executives who currently meet and exceed performance expectations.   Depth of self-insight and a high level of psychological sophistication, integration, consciousness and spiritual orientation therefore do not seem to be a prerequisite for executive performance within this business context.

 

4. Dynamic personality patterns and the MP Enneagram across executive geographic location

The life roles, archetypes or metaphors selected, and the more in-depth responses to these roles, have been linked to the Enneagram. The Enneagram dates back to 2500 BC but has been developed since by authors such as C. Naranjo, A. H. Almaas, S. Maitri, D. Riso and R. Hudson. It identifies 9 behavioural or personality orientations and defence mechanisms – presented here as “dynamic personality patterns”.

According to the Enneagram, love and acceptance are the core drivers of behaviour. Personality is a defensive structure shaped by three conditions of feeling unloved: (a) a lack of control, (b) insecurity, and (c) disapproval from others. Our defensive responses to these conditions become our personality over time. Personality therefore seldom reflects a person’s true being, but response to feeling unloved. By identifying the pattern(s) reflected by a person’s behaviour, the Enneagram also reveals the development needed for realising the true self, emotional essence or ‘soul child’ of the person to enhance psychological and spiritual growth.

In terms of the 9 primary dynamic personality patterns as measured by the MP and based on the Enneagram, the following patterns are most common amongst the executives within four regions.

The Investigator is the Type 5 on the Enneagram. These individuals want to know and understand facts and ideas and avoid emotional pressure. Guardians, or Type 6 have a very active and controlling predisposition and tend to take personal responsibility on behalf of others and situations. A fair number of Indian and South American executives also showed a preference for the Type 3 Performer, who aim to invoke the trust of and recognition from others, manage their own image well and show personal ambition.

 

4.1 The MP Enneagram and Performance ratings

Indian and South American performance ratings are excluded from these analyses. For each performance rating, the frequency of a specific Enneagram type is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all Enneagram type frequencies.

Here it is interesting to note that very few of the high-performance executives adopted the “Helper” (Enneagram type 2) or the Individualist (Enneagram type 4) roles whereas many took the roles of Performers (Enneagram type 3), Investigators (Enneagram type 5) and Enthusiasts (Enneagram type 7) roles.

 

4.2 The MP Enneagram and Potential ratings

Indian and South American potential ratings are excluded from these analyses. For each potential rating, the frequency of a specific Enneagram type is expressed as a percentage of the sum of all Enneagram type frequencies.

Of interest here is the increase in the perfectionist type within the High Potential group and the absence of the helper type for this same group. The Investigator role associated with an intellectual orientation and the Guardian role, characterised by conscientiousness and control, also emerged as important considerations in estimating potential.

 

Conclusions

Results based on the Motivational Profile (MP) further clarifies the characteristics of high-performance executives across geographical regions, namely:

  • Life scripts or personality themes reflecting a people orientation, intentionality and intellectual prowess.
  • Motivational drive characterised by a rigorous, logical-analytical cognitive approach, a high degree of emotional involvement in work and a tendency to implement strategies and control processes.
  • Personality patterns and defence mechanisms (Enneagram types) revolving around intellectual understanding (Type 5), the control of others and situations (Type 6) and the careful management of own image (Type 3).
  • The construct of self-awareness, however, does not seem to be of particular importance for executive functioning within the business environment. Moderate levels of self-insight seem to suffice, and few high-performance executives show deep levels of introspection, self-awareness and self-transcendence.

 

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