Winning at Work with Motive Based Coaching

“What does it take to win at work?”

People have asked me that question dozens of times after a keynote speech or radio talk show. They wanted to know the action to take to build a successful life instead of being trapped in long term failure. It’s a great question, but since every person faces different challenges there isn’t a 100% specific answer that works for every person. A better coaching approach is to focus on the real source of motivation by exploring the underlying motive.
When you discover the motive behind why your clients want to win at work you will be on track to shaping a coaching approach that speeds them toward accomplishing goals and avoiding distractions that lead to failure. Ask coaching questions like

• Do you want to win at work to deepen your resume to advance your career?

• Does success at work mean making more money to bring home to your family?

• Does career success give you personal meaning and fulfillment?

• Does winning bring you a sense of satisfaction by proving you are the best?

Greater professional success usually gives a person much greater options in their personal life because increased income brings the flexibility to solve problems and control schedules by delegation. Outsourcing to save time and money is a wise use of resources. However, working harder to gain greater self-esteem is a dangerous motivator because it takes major sacrifices of time and energy and can often become a ‘black hole’ of busy activity leading to workaholism.

Career burnout is from an attempt to fill up deep emotional insecurity through aggressive professional activity. Burnout won’t lead to professional success, and sadly is incredibly common among people who haven’t seen the importance of mapping out a realistic coaching plan to win at work.

Finding the Energy for Career Success

So how do you help coaching clients stay motivated to achieve greater career success? Start by dealing with their core values, which can be identified through their internal motives, since motives lead to motivation. Here are key areas I use to inspire people to stay focused to win at work while feeling greater energy and fulfillment in the process.

1) Insight

There is a scripture verse I was taught to pray every day, “If any many lacks wisdom let him ask God and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5). If you know that you don’t know the answers, then asking for God’s direction is a wise use of time. Generating insight by asking God to reveal the special gifts and abilities your coaching client has been granted, regardless of how much they are struggling. Everyone has talent and ability at something. It takes insight to see it and then it takes courage to stay focused to light the fire of desire in the heart of a client who may feel like giving up. This coaching approach could begin with some of the people close to your client, like a marriage partner, family member or trusted friend because they already know so much about your client’s personality, character, motivation and drives. Asking many questions to gain greater insight will protect against impulsive choices, and insure a greater likelihood of success.

2) Interests

One you know your coaching clients gifts, talents, abilities and skills, the next step is to help them see how those unique gifts could be transferred into something so incredibly interesting that they want to show up and learn more about it every day. There is an old saying that the curious are never bored, which is true. When a coaching client is inspired about pursuing something extremely interesting to them they can lose all track of time because they are so fascinated with the topic they are studying. Linking their interests with greater insight leads to the next part of the process to win at work.

3) Important

Once a coaching client gets inspired to pursue the aspects of their job or career that are interesting to them, the next element to add to stir up motivation is to discover what is important to them. What is valuable to them? What has great meaning? What activities or organizations do they believe strongly in? Everyone believes in something yet they often haven’t taken time to explore and discover the core motives that fuel their motivation to create positive change.

Now that you have mapped out the key areas that motivate your coaching client you are ready for the final stage.

4) Identity

When people figure who they are, and what they enjoy doing, they are on track to live out their purpose and having fun in the process! Perhaps the huge success of many work related reality TV shows are because they show what most coaching clients secretly would like their work experience to be – a place that allows them to utilize their creative abilities in an environment that rewards taking big risks to achieve greater results. It’s not hard for them to stay motivated because when they know why they are going to work it’s not hard to stay in the race to win. In fact, it makes it easy to move from a fear of failure to moving forward with a new dedication to finish strong!

Now you have the basic coaching strategies needed to guide your clients toward winning at work. Yet, even with these insights many people are afraid to try and often give up on the belief that they could have a better life by moving from what I call their ‘day job’ over to experiencing their ‘dream job’. Why do they lack career confidence? Why are they still likely to fail? Here are the hidden motivations that most often lead to losing at work.

Times are tough and many people are afraid about what the economy will do in the future, in fact they can become so frozen in fear they are afraid to try. It’s normal to feel afraid, yet a coaching client overwhelmed with fear can often become indecisive and ‘zone out.’ Since running away from reality feels easier than facing it for some people they chose to stick their head in the sand and completely deny what’s happening to their industry, (think about how Blockbuster Video failed to make strategic changes with their customers and eventually filed for bankruptcy protection, while competitor organizations like NetFlix and Red Box were thriving).

Some people do this in a passive way and just slowly sink, while others try to avoid reality by using substances or media to escape. Avoiding major change by hiding in fear will lead to a major crisis. Being aware of these dangers and opening up the conversation will help you to ask tough questions to protect your coaching clients when they are heading toward a dangerous situation.

Clients in this could include marriage partners or coworkers connected to people who are losing at work, but it’s really about your coaching clients who are trying, but it’s just not coming together for them. They want to finish strong and have a meaningful career, but they lack the horsepower to really pull out in front of the crowd. These coaching clients are at great risk, because they will face a choice. Finish with mediocre results and risk getting laid off or downsized to try again at the next job; or just check out to avoid feeling the pain of not performing to their potential and quit. I’ve especially seen this with highly creative or bright coaching clients who procrastinated until the last minute and then couldn’t finish projects assigned to them. Their frustration often comes out as anger directed toward the closest person to them. It’s not fair, but it happens because they let the frustration take over, which blocks their ability to win at work.

Sadly this type of coaching client is the easiest to spot because they checked out a long time ago. When someone has reached this level they are so unmotivated they give up on even trying at the most basic of tasks so their resume just reflects a ‘free fall’ down to zero. They totally and completely fail, which crushes their confidence and for many it kills the desire to try again; which leads many coaching clients to give up completely and just drop out on the idea that a meaningful career was ever even a possibility for them. They are too depleted to even believe that God’s promise spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3) is still available to them.
I challenge you as a Christian Coach to step up with words of encouragement to guide your clients from fear to greater faith by identifying their core motives, and then translating that into the powerful motivation needed to win at work.

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is the Executive Director of the International Christian Coaching Association, (ICCA), Certified Life Coach and Nationally Certified Counselor in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Stay connected with him at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.