Motivational Picture, Positive Motivation Concept

We were recently talking with a gifted leader who has done incredible work with his organization’s leaders using the concepts from Daniel Pink’s 2011 book Drive. It’s a great book and it’s summarized in a very engaging YouTube video that we would encourage you to watch. It takes about 10 minutes and yet it hits all the highlights of this counter-intuitive and thought-provoking book about motivation.

The short version is this: Despite our cultural belief that people work for money, the research shows that once people are making enough money to meet their basic needs, the true motivators are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It’s important to know this if you want to increase your motivation and drive as well as if you are in a role where you need to tap into the motivation and drive of others.

Unfortunately, for many people, it’s hard to know how to make this concept actionable so it becomes a nice idea that sits on the shelf with the hundreds of other nice ideas. Yet, with a slight shift in the framework, this research is very actionable.

The way we explain it to our clients is this:

drive image

You see, it becomes actionable when you think about it as first Purpose, then Mastery, and finally Autonomy. As a leader, you need to be sure that the people who work with and for you have a sense of purpose that is aligned with the organization and with their work. It may evolve over time but it must be close enough or it’s not a good fit. Once that is clear, it’s critically important to support their development of the skills and abilities that will allow a sense of mastery in their day-to-day work. Then, with a purpose that is aligned with the goals of the organization and the mastery of those skills and abilities they need to do their work, you can support them having increasing levels of autonomy and appropriate decision-making.

This week, think about something you have been feeling you “should” do but have not had the motivation to actually do it. Ask yourself:

  1. Is doing this in alignment with my purpose?
  2. Do I have the skills to do this successfully?
  3. Do I have the authority and autonomy to do this as I see fit?

Your answers to these questions may help you to understand why you are not getting traction.