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Commanding and Collaborative Motivations

By Daniel Bobinski

Do you prefer stepping up and assuming leadership positions, or do you prefer a supporting role?

This article is the fifth in a series about the six learned (extrinsic) motivators. The first installment examined the different ways people are motivated by knowledge. Then we looked at how tangible things –including money – may or may not motivate us. Following that we looked at how we are driven by our surroundings. Last time we looked at different ways people are motivated to give to others, and in this installment we’ll be looking at how people exercise their power.

The motivational spectrum of power

The power spectrum is about how we use our influence. At one end of the scale are people we call commanding, and at the other end are those we call collaborative. Commanding people prefer having control over their choices and freedoms. They prefer being in control, and with that they often seek recognition. Conversely, collaborative people often disperse their power throughout a team, preferring to support a leader or a cause without any need for personal recognition.

All people use power, but they will demonstrate it in different ways.

Traits of a commanding person

People on the commanding side of this spectrum tend to work long and hard to build up their influence and status. They focus on developing winning strategies for whatever project is before them, and they’re often passionate about creating an enduring legacy.

Those with strong tendencies in this area seek authority equal to their responsibility so they can direct and control their own destiny. Advancement and titles can be particularly important to them.

Traits of a collaborative person

People with a collaborative motivator are driven to support others, serving as a contributor without much need for personal recognition. They prefer working behind the scenes without fanfare and they don’t need a title. They just want things to get done.

Collaborative people enjoy camaraderie and shared decision making in support of a cause or a leader. They function best when directions and objectives are decided by someone else.

Both motivational styles are easy to identify. Commanding styles usually assert themselves, volunteering to organize and promote activities. Whether it’s a family event like a reunion or a community event like a neighborhood garage sale, the commanding person will be the “go-to” person to make it happen.

Conversely, collaborative people stay in the background, watching and listening for what’s needed to make a project successful. They will take initiative to get tasks done once they know what the tasks are and work in the background, leveraging the strengths of other people. They rarely call attention to their own accomplishments, instead giving credit to the team.

As I said, all people have power, but they direct it differently. Both styles are needed to make any organization or project successful; the key is identifying who has which style and letting them shine in their preferred role. With this motivator, you don’t want to put someone in a role that doesn’t fit their style.

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach Daniel through his website,, or his office 208-375-7606.



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