What We Are Reading
September 2021

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

What drives people to do their best work? In his classic book from 2011, Daniel Pink acknowledges that external rewards (e.g. money) and punishments (e.g. “you’re fired!”) are effective levers, but our reliance on these “carrots and sticks” to drive performance presumes that the work itself is not inherently rewarding. Money remains a motivator (“pay enough to at least take the issue of money off the table”), but is only truly effective for tasks that are formulaic or dull. For more complex work, requiring flexible problem-solving, inventiveness or conceptual understanding, contingent rewards like pay can be precarious, leading to unethical behavior, decreased cooperation and low engagement. Drawing on decades of research, Pink exposes the gap between the science of human motivation and how companies, schools and even families actually incentivize individuals to perform. He shows how leaders can employ the key ingredients of genuine motivation (autonomy, mastery and purpose) to ensure their teams and organizations are motivated, productive and happy.

HIGHLIGHT(S): “The opposite of autonomy is control. And since they sit at different poles of the behavioral compass, they point us toward different destinations. Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” “Organizations that have found inventive, sometimes radical, ways to boost autonomy are outperforming their competitors.”

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