The 4M Learning and Growth Model

Do you want to be the best manager and leader you can be? Becoming the best manager you can be is not an easy task and in order to do so you will be embarking on a continuous learning journey. To help you with that, we present The 4M Model - a roadmap to help you succeed on your management journey, faster and with more ease.

It consists of four key elements:

Employing these 4Ms will help you stay focused and accelerate your progress. Let's take a closer look at these 4M's, starting with MOTIVATORS:


What motivates you to keep on going, even on those days when you feel like quitting? You may be surprised to know that all human beings are born already motivated, beyond just the need to survive - and these motivators last throughout our lives.

Let me explain...

Motivational psychologists* recent research has discovered what motivates us from birth. In particular, they have discovered that we are all born possessing three innate, universal motivators or needs:

  • The need for Competency - being masterful at a variety of things
  • The need for Autonomy - being free to make our own choices and live our own lives
  • The need for Relatedness - being accepted, loved and cherished by others

As we mature, additional needs arise; such as PurposeMeaning and yes, even Money, Possessions and Power.  We sometimes even internalize these additional needs to such an extent that they transform from being extrinsic (or externally driven) to intrinsic (or internally driven).

Now before you attempt to answer the question "what motivates me?", consider how you spend your time. For example, to understand what motivates you at work, take a typical day, and examine what type of work draws you in, and what type of work you avoid.

The work that draws you in, does so because it meets your innate or intrinsic needs, as well as perhaps meeting one or more strong extrinsic needs. It does so because you are triggering one or more of the following seven key motivators:

  • COMPETENCY: building on a strength, and helping others do the same
  • AUTONOMY: experiencing freedom of choice, and giving others the same freedom
  • RELATEDNESS: getting recognized and accepted by others, and recognizing and accepting others
  • PURPOSE: pursuing a purpose, and assisting others recognize and pursue their purpose
  • MEANING: experiencing a deeper meaning, and helping others discover meaning in their work
  • REWARDS: acquiring tangible rewards, and ensuring others are treated fairly in terms of rewards
  • POWER: gaining or holding on to power, and sharing that power with others

The Seven Key Motivators

More motivators could be added to this list, but the seven above tend to be the main ones that we have come across. They are a good starting point. 

So there you have it, seven key motivators that, when attended to, will energize you and keep you motivated on your management and leadership journey!

If motivation was all we needed to succeed, we could end the conversation here. But that's not the real world. The 4M model proposes three additional elements for you to utilize. Let's take a look at these as well, starting with Models:


There are two types of Models: Concept Models and Role Models

Concept Models are designed to take a complex topic and distill it into something memorable and easier to use. The 4M Model is an example. Other examples include Problem Solving Models, Decision Making Models, the DiSC Model of Personality, and various Leadership Models. All of these attempt to "model" or explain how something is done or achieved. You can greatly accelerate learning by applying such models.

Role Models are those people we often admire and look up to when we are attempting to change our attitudes, learn new skills and gain new knowledge. In fact, most of what we learn, especially from an early age, is learned from role models. Research tells us that we learn best from others who are not too far ahead of us in terms of attitude, skills and knowledge, and are easily accessible. While we can learn from role models who are in the public eye, we tend to learn less from them because they are far too advanced and are not accessible to us.


There are two types of Mentors: Individual and Group

Your learning journey will likely have many challenges and setbacks. How you deal with these is far more important than trying to avoid them. That's why Mentors are so invaluable. Finding a suitable mentor is a journey in itself. The key aims of a mentor is to provide you with psychological and emotional support when the going gets tough...when you hit the speed bumps on your management journey.

Groups can also provide such support, albeit in a less intimate way. Examples of such groups are Communities of Practice (CoPs), LinkedIn Groups, FaceBook Groups and MeetUp/Mastermind Groups. In an age when social media and virtual connections abound, finding such groups is not too difficult. Be aware though that you will need to give as much as you receive in these groups to make them successful!


Probably the strongest of the 4Ms is Mastery, or to be more precise Mastery Experiences. There are two types of mastery experiences: Simulated and Real World.

Simulated Experiences attempt to emulate the real world in ways that are risk free. Think of a flight simulator for training pilots. Where the potential for failure is high, and the consequences are potentiality catastrophic, then learning simulations are strongly advised. But even when such risk/impact factors are not so high, you can find yourself engaging in learning simulations. For example, when you attend a course or workshop and take part in a role play, then you are availing of a mastery experience that is simulated.

Real World Experiences are much more powerful - because there is more risk involved, the stakes are higher and we tend to apply ourselves more intensely than we do in simulations. This is where the need for timely feedback is vitally important. Practicing without feedback leaves us stuck and increases the chances of repeating failed behaviours.

In each of our training courses, we start with exploring how these 4Ms can assist you on your learning journey. 

See also Self-Determination Theory by Deci and Ryan for more on the three universal needs and self motivation.