There is nothing like an incentive to get me working hard to achieve something.
I often find that I work well under the 'right' amount of pressure (and by this I don't mean staying up all night like I did in my college days), but having a time frame in which to work spurs me into action. Too long a time frame and I put things off; too short and I go into panic-mode. So I plan my time to ensure I have just the 'right' amount of pressure (for me) - to be at my most productive.
As I said before, my motivation tends to be to go towards something, which means I like rewards and treats to spur me on and encourage me. I generally don't like losing out on things or having something taken away. In NLP terms, this is described as having a towards or away-from metaprogram. It's just the same as saying you are more motivated by the carrot or you are more motivated by the stick. It is a useful and simple way to think about how to motivate yourself and is particularly useful with others.
When you are motivating a team, remember what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others, so try a combination of rewards and penalties.
I'd love to hear what motivates you so why not share your thoughts? Leave me a comment below!