Manage Smarter 79 — Steven Sisler: Motivation and How It Moves Your Team

Steve Sisler on the Manage Smarter podcast from SalesFuel motivation in the workplace


Episode Link


Steven Sisler is an author, speaker, and a master behavioral analyst. He has consulted on “personality difference” with hundreds of .com companies in 18 countries. He is the CEO of Behavioral Resource Group and a SalesFuel partner.

In this episode, Audrey, Lee and Steve discuss motivation in the workplace along with:


  • What motivates us that makes the brain feel good and lessens brain tension
  • The 27 different styles of motivation
  • Why we are driven by feelings
  • How managers can learn to identify the different motivational types on their team



"If I’m a very creative person and I also get to display my creativity and create in my work then I’m feeling good. So this is always about how you’re feeling"

- Steve Sisler


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Manage Smarter 79 — Steven Sisler- Motivation in the Workplace

How It Moves Your Team


This episode of Managed Smarter is presented by SalesFuel Consulting, leading experts for assessing and transforming management, sales, culture, and team performance. Learn more at SalesFuel​.com.

Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, with host C. Lee Smith and Audrey Strong. We're glad you're here for discussions on new ways to manage smarter, hire, develop, and retain talent, improve results, and propel team performance to new heights. This is the Manage Smarter Podcast.

Audrey Strong: Welcome to Manage Smarter, everyone. Today, we're going to talk about motivators and motivation in the workplace, which if you have an employee that lacks either of those, it's not such a great thing, right, Lee?

C. Lee Smith: That's absolutely right. I'm C. Lee Smith, the president and CEO of SalesFuel. And no, it's like motivation in the workplace is actually very personal. It's not the ra ra guy in front of a packed arena van down by the river motivational workplace speaker kind of thing. And that's what we're going to hear about today.

Audrey Strong: That's right. Hey, everybody. I'm Audrey Strong. I'm the vice president of communications here at SalesFuel, and we have Steve Sisler with us today at our microphones. Hi, Steve.

Steven Sisler: Hey, how are you?

Audrey Strong: We're good. Steve is an author, speaker, and a master behavioral analyst, that is even an understatement. He has consulted on personality difference with hundreds of dot com companies in 18 countries, including the US military, UNCs cadet program, Beach Nut, nutritional corporations, signature brands, Mastermind talks at Toronto, Inscribed, to name just a few. Latest book from Mr. Steve Sisler is called What Moves Us: An Integrated Look at Human Motivation. So what motivates us?

Steven Sisler: Well, to be honest, what makes the brain feel good and lessen the brain tension. And so to explain that just a tad bit more, if I like being in charge, then it's because when I'm not in control of my space, I'm experiencing brain tension. And so people think, oh, you're just a control freak. But what's really happening is they are experiencing a lot of brain tension when they're not able to call the shots when it comes to where they're going in life. And so we try to position ourselves into a space and we lean in a direction. And so it's a direction of leadership for people that have high power orientations in their thinking. And so the tension is released when I'm able to call the shots. And so I will typically look for positions that I can get into to, to where I'm doing that, and I have that dynamic, that lessens my brain tension. It's not about being in control, it's about lessening brain tension.

C. Lee Smith: How many of these brain tensions or dimensions are there when it comes to motivation in the workplace?

Steven Sisler: There's seven of them. There's an aesthetic orientation, which is all about your ability to create and be in a space where your unorthodox and unconventional ideas can be heard and utilized. There's another space, it's known as individualism, where your freedom and autonomy are able to be displayed in the world and in your work, where you're free to be yourself and your ideas can be heard and things of that sort. There's an economic drive, which is really about efficiency. A lot of people, when they're thinking in their minds, their brain says, "What am I getting out of this?" before they do anything. And so if they're not getting enough out of what they're doing, they don't want to do it. In other words, if the friend calls up and says, "Hey, Saturday, I'm moving a bunch of stuff. I need some help," people that are very high on this dimension, they're already wondering if they're going to be buying lunch for them.

C. Lee Smith: Is there pizza? Is there beer?

Steven Sisler: Yeah, what's in it for me, right? I'm coming to put off this energy but am I getting anything in return for that energy?

C. Lee Smith: I think a lot of people make the mistake on economic motivator, thinking that it's all about money, where I really think it's really more about the investment of time, energy, and money, of course.

Steven Sisler: It's exactly what it is. It's I'm investing time, energy, and talent into this mechanism, and what's coming out the other end? Nothing? Is it a black hole? Or am I my better, bigger, feeling better about that investment of energy? Now, the people that are easily satisfied, they don't think about those things. Every time you call them, they'll drop what they're doing and help you. And so they feel better when they're used, and so that's the altruistic mindset. It's all about sacrifice. To the degree that I'm able to sacrifice what I want so you can have what you need, I feel good, right. That's called the lose winner. So when I lose and you win but I had something to do with your win, then I feel really good about who I am in the world.

C. Lee Smith: Even though you're a loser?

Steven Sisler: Yeah. That's right. Even though everything you do doesn't help you, it's always helping somebody else. And so that's another one of those orientations. And then power, we talked about that, so I'm not going to repeat it. And then regulation, black and white thinking. There's only one way to skin a cat, this way. Or I don't care how you skin a cat just don't hit blood on the carpet. I don't care. To each his own or here's how you do it or don't do it. So if you're a black and white thinker, then you're going to need structure, systems, everything in its place, and if you don't have that, you're going to experience brain tension. And then theoretical dimension, which is all about curiosity. Have you ever been at Home Depot and you ask, "You guys sell hurricane clips or you guys sell this plumbing part?" And the guy says, "Yeah, aisle seven, all the way down on the left. We got nine left." You're like, "How did he know that?" Well, he's curious. So if that's his department, he wants to know where everything is. And then you get people working at Home Depot, they've been there four years and don't know they sell rakes.

C. Lee Smith: Not my department. Not my department.

Steven Sisler: Not my department. I don't know. I don't care. So, they start experiencing brain tension when they have to know stuff.

Audrey Strong: Just for the sake of fair balance, this could also occur at Lowes or Menards.

Steven Sisler: Absolutely.  So this is what happens. When you talk about work motivation, I'm motivated when that environment agrees with the tension points in my brain, that's when I'm motivated. It's not that I'm not a motivated person. It's that you've got me fooling around with a flathead screwdriver, but the job is a Phillips head screw. I'm not motivated to keep trying to do that. And that's what it's like if we're in an environment that isn't working towards what works for our brains.

Audrey Strong: And you can be more than one of these simultaneously, correct?

Steven Sisler: Yes. We've actually, in our profile, called the IMO report, which stands for integrated motivational workplace orientations. We've come up with 27 different styles, soon to be 37, but 27 different styles. And everybody's one of those types, and when you are and your environment agrees with that, in other words, if I'm a very creative person and I also get to display my creativity and create in my work, then I'm feeling good. So this is always about how your brain is feeling. That's why you can't stop people from masturbating, it's because it feels good.  I know that's kind of funny.

C. Lee Smith: Well, that's a new topic for this show. We checked that box off now.

Steven Sisler: The thing I'm pointing out is, why do human beings do this, even as children? As soon as their brain figures what dopamine is, they can't get away from that water fountain. So this is in our brains, and work should feel like you're masturbating. Because you will go there, you'll be early. You'll go home late and you'll love every bit of it. What happens is it's like going to work and getting hit in the face with a two by four, like, no one wants to sign up for that, because everything you're doing is out of sync with how your brain operates.

C. Lee Smith: We're not encouraging people to rewrite your job descriptions and job postings.

Steven Sisler: Listen, I did not plan on saying that, I don’t know why–

Audrey Strong: Too late.

C. Lee Smith: The ratings on this show is going to be phenomenal this week.

Audrey Strong: I may put it in the show notes.

Steven Sisler: Oh, my God. I don’t know if that's going to be good or bad.

C. Lee Smith: We'll find out.

Audrey Strong: I do have a question, though. So if there's 37 types, and I'm a manager listening to this, how am I supposed to create a work environment that appeals to all 37 of those types?

C. Lee Smith: You're not.

Steven Sisler: You don't. Here's what you do.

Audrey Strong: Okay. What do I do?

Steven Sisler: You have your job, you have your work. We make these widgets, whatever it is you're doing. And then as you're onboarding people that come in and do it, you know what your environment's like, you know what the people are like, you have a culture. Most people should be aware of what those mechanics are. And as you bring people into that, you're looking for people that will already, based upon who they are already as a human being, agree with that environment.

Audrey Strong: I see.

C. Lee Smith: So if you're an ad agency creative, you're looking for someone high aesthetic and maybe high individualism. If you're a salesperson, maybe high economic. If you're an accountant or a law enforcement person, you don't want low regulatory, right?

Steven Sisler: Exactly. That's sort of how it works. And there's so many nuances there that you can't just make straight out statements like, "all sales people are influencers," not so. I know some people that they're like talking to a rock, but they're the top salesman in the country.

C. Lee Smith: Especially these days.

Steven Sisler: So how does this work? There are other dynamics in play. What are you selling? What type of clients are buying it? What do they need to talk to in order of a person for them to feel like there's a connection here? Some people sell more because they can answer any question the client asks than people who are just optimistic about the product.

C. Lee Smith: Because they're providing value to the client.

Steven Sisler: That's exactly right. So, who is the client? What is the client need? Because all sales is, is meeting client needs.

C. Lee Smith: It's helping people. Yeah.

Steven Sisler: If you can do that and you know what those are, and then you can read the people so you know how to say it, and you know how to do it based upon the person you're dealing with, you're even going to do better.

C. Lee Smith: So Steve, which of these seven dimensions is the most important?Steven Sisler: I think from what I have seen in my business over the last, let's say, 15 years consulting companies, power tends to have some of the greatest challenges and rewards. If your power orientation or your power need is overextended, you become a jerk. If it's under extended, you settle for what you can get, you can't fight for what you want, and you'll yield your position to avoid a controversy, which

has its own set of problems. And so finding the sweet spot there, in correlation with your behavior which is based upon your primary emotions, that mixture is really what creates a sweet spot for leaders. And they're different, there is not one sweet spot and everybody has to fit into it. It's based upon your orientations around many different things, and that would include axiology, behavioral analysis, emotions, all these different things.

C. Lee Smith: Steve, power is a good one to talk about for that particular concept. You get somebody that's highly motivated for power, but they're a low D and they don't have a bias for action. What happens in that kind of a situation?

Steven Sisler: They become very frustrated because they want to be in charge in order to satisfy the brain tension that's developing, because they're not calling the shots and telling people what they think they need to do, and may be all for good reason. But because they lack anger, their anger orientation is inconsistent but their patience orientation is extremely in play, what that creates is a desire to do but an inability to pull it off. And so they live in a position of frustration. Here's a good example. I was profiling an individual that's going to intern at a business up in Chicago. I got the profile and then the person who the profile belonged to called in for a debriefing. They were a highly passive individual, patience with a 98, anger was about a 30, influence was about a 15, and fear was about an 80. This person is a silent observer. I call them living room furniture. Once you put it in the house, it doesn't do anything but stay there. And so this person was furniture. His power orientation was a 73 out of 100. He wanted the role because it was a leadership role that had other people under him that needed to be developed if he were to get the role. I just told him about himself and he was a little disappointed in the way he was. I said, "Hey, there's nothing disappointing about this. You're a stabilizer. You're this, you're that, these are all your assets. Why don't you like your assets?" So we talked about that.

Well, then I got the leader on the phone who's thinking of bringing this person into the role. He said, "What did you think of the person?" I said, "Here's the deal," And I gave him the rundown to how this person thinks, and he starts laughing. And I said, "What's so funny?" He goes, "This is exactly what the guy said to me when I saw him last." He said, "I really like this role. I really feel like it's a role for me, but I've already realized if I don't get it that's okay." So right away, this guy's like, "Oh, my God, you nailed it." That's what he just did. He wants to roll this net but he won't fight for it. I said, "So when he gets the role, how many people in there is he going to fight for?" He's like, "None." I'm like, "Amen, brother." None. He doesn't have it in him. So, depending upon what you're looking for, he will or will not fit that bill.

C. Lee Smith: There's a science to all this. Science is really accessible then to any manager out there so that you can really learn the seven dimensions or how many ever there this week of motivation in the workplace. Steve, how does that work?

Steven Sisler: Well, I've got a website, behavioralresourcegroup​.com. I've got these tools available. And of course, Steven Sisler, Amazon, just type the name in, books come up. It's pretty simple access points there. But we've got everything, we've really got everything anyone needs for a leader or for understanding how somebody's wired.

Audrey Strong: What do you say to the manager who's probably listening to this going, "Well, we already did this. We did Myers-​Briggs or we did Big Five," and so how is this different, and they really need to reconsider doing a new round, a fresh round?

Steven Sisler: Yeah. Listen, I never disparage other people's tools or whatever, they're all kind of going after the same thing. It's not about the tool necessarily. In other words, okay, now that you know what your behavior orientations are, now what? The now what, is what they're paying for. The now what do we do, that's what they're paying for. And so not only are we extremely accurate, we know what's going to happen, because we're not assessment sellers. We're behavioral profilers. It's different. It's just like the FBI. I just recently heard about this situation, where they went into a murder scene, they looked all, everything over. They gathered all the facts and data based upon the murder scene. And he says, "This gentleman's driving an orange Volkswagen," and he was. Now that's insane. But that's the level that we can get to.

I mean, I had a person have a profile done and they said, "I want you to do a profile my girlfriend and then you can talk to her, blah, blah, blah. But I want you to call me first." So, got the profile, called in. He said, "What do you see?" I looked at the profile, and I could tell you stories like this for the next five hours, I looked at the profile and said, "She looks to me like somebody who's drowning or is held under water. That's the emotions." He's like, oh, my God. I said, "What?" "She's addicted to some drugs, and it all started when she nearly drowned." I've been doing that for years and years and years.

C. Lee Smith: So Steve, is your brain always wired then of these seven motivators or can motivators change over time?

Steven Sisler: They can change because the satisfaction rate is there. And as you grow and change, that satisfaction is no longer necessary. I mean, anything before age 26 is likely to change, because your brain isn't fully developed until age 26, 25, somewhere around there, depending if your male or female. But then that's why you should never go to college until you're 30, and you should never marry until you're 27, because the odds of it working out are greater. That's why only one in four people use their degree because they went to school too early.

C. Lee Smith: Interesting.

Steven Sisler: Your brain does change. If your emotions are extreme or overextended, the odds of them changing aren't likely, but there's nothing right or wrong about that. But motivation in the workplace can change depending upon a multiple slew of factors.

C. Lee Smith: I was going to ask that question. It's like, what are the triggers that would actually cause that to happen?

Steven Sisler: Well, I had an individual, he was highly economically-​driven in the beginning of his life. And then at the end of his life, he kind of made his fortune. Now he's more benevolent, right, so he gives a lot of it away. And so, you know, that's where there was a change that took place. I have another individual who's done this with me four times over the last five years. And we've seen slowly his power line going up and another line going down, and it actually changed his life.

Audrey Strong: Fantastic. Interesting stuff. Everybody get the book, What Moves Us: An Integrated Look at Human Motivation, or if you want to hire Steve to speak or for his services, behavioralresourcegroup​.com. You are @SteveSisler on Twitter, Linkedin​.com, Steven Sisler, right?

Steven Sisler: Yes.

Audrey Strong: What a pleasure, Steve, we appreciate you coming back to the show.

Steven Sisler: Well, thanks for having me on, you guys are always great.

C. Lee Smith: Yeah. We love having you.

Thanks for listening to this episode on motivation in the workplace. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and recommend on iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcast. You can also get more great information@​salesfuel.​com.

This podcast is a part of the C‑Suite Radio Network. For more top business podcasts, visit c‑

Audrey Strong

Audrey Strong

Vice President of Communications at SalesFuel
Audrey Strong heads all external and internal communications for SalesFuel, including public relations — which she has directed since 2014. Prior to SalesFuel, she founded her own public relations firm and served years as an award-​winning journalist in television news. Audrey earned her degree in broadcast journalism from Ohio University.
Audrey Strong


13 TV news journalism awards PR/​Marketing & Former TV newser. Opinions solely my own.
@DENAirport massive disruption and mess for years in the great hall and what I find now is it was all for some new… — 4 days ago
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