Alyssa Dickman leads a discussion of Drive with Nitya Shekar and Kate Arms. We talk about how people are motivated and the ways organizational structures can inhibit or support motivation.
We discuss the relationship between creativity and motivation, the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, how monetizing passion and purpose can backfire, flow, employee engagement, and how to optimize incentives for the goals that matter. We dig into why optimizing for the short term can create long-term challenges and how motivational feedback loops can mislead us.
Listen in if you are interested in designing organizations and building teams that enable motivation, innovation, and creativity.
What is Leadership Arts Review?
Leadership Arts Review is a dynamic podcast about the art and science of leadership.
Kate Arms, Alyssa Dickman, and Nitya Shekar explore a different leadership book each episode to help you navigate all the theories and strategies out there and find the elements that work for you.
Kate Arms [00:00:03]:
Welcome to Leadership Arms Review, a podcast that explores the art and science of leadership. I'm Kate Arms.
Alyssa Dickman [00:00:09]:
I'm Alyssa Dickman.
Nitya Shekar [00:00:24]:
I'm Nitya Shekar.
Alyssa Dickman [00:00:31]:
Each episode, we deep dive into one leadership book to share what we like and what we think you can apply to your own personal leadership journey.
Today we're going to discuss "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink. I appreciate being able to bring this book to our discussion. This is a book that I've had for a while. It's one that I tend to refer to quite a bit in terms of the theories around motivation. And it was coming up again and again because I'm finding in classes that I teach and in coaching that I do, I'm hearing a lot of how do I get them to do this or that, how do I motivate people?
It starts off by talking about the failure of what he calls Motivation 2.0. How did that resonate with you?
Nitya Shekar [00:01:19]:
I thought it was interesting to see the history of motivation mapped alongside the history of work, frankly, and how motivation has changed alongside the way work has changed. And, yeah, I definitely thought it was interesting that we've gone from being in purely survival mode to being in Motivation 2.0, which is kind of carrot stick model that, unfortunately, we're all now incredibly used to today.
I think it is true, and I'm sure we'll get into it, that the carrot and stick approach around rewards and punishment, really controlling environments where you do what the boss says all the time. I think it's true that that doesn't work. But of course, I would venture to say I don't think it ever really worked. I'm sure even in the industrial age and when many people working factories and things, I don't know that it worked, quote, unquote, even then, because I think it depends how you define success. Yes, it shipped out the widgets, right? But did it leave people actually feeling motivated? I actually don't think so.
I actually think that even Motivation 2.0, there were a lot of remnants of the survival-oriented motivation even there. I think people just needed money to survive. I guess my takeaway there is that the three stages of motivation, like 1.02.03, but they all kind of bleed into each other. And also, I think the old way never really worked because I think humans were never really wired for the kind of command and control model. So that's kind of my take on it.
Kate Arms [00:02:49]:
It's interesting because I came to this book having looked at motivation in the education system. So about three years before this book was published, there was a TED Talk that went viral from Ken Robinson talking about how schools kill creativity, and schools kill creativity by using extrinsic motivation as a classroom management technique. So, none of this was new to me when I came to the book. And it was nice to see that somebody was writing about it in a work context.
I think that questions about what counts as success and what motivation is are really at the heart of all of this. If we take care of survival, we are going to do whatever it takes and we are going to learn whatever it takes to survive because that's what human beings are wired for. Children are born with an instinct to find a caretaker and do what it takes to get them to take care of you. It's not surprising that that just continues getting people to do what you want using these extrinsic motivators. It's totally powerful. It's totally effective.
If you know what you want from somebody and you can bully them into doing it or you can bribe them into doing it, it's effective. But if you don't know what you want from them or if you want them to feel good, it's not effective.
I think that the thing Pink is pointing at with this Motivation 2.0, motivation 3.0 shift is that the world of work has changed and what we want out of our employees now is the creativity and learning that gets driven out of them by Motivation 2.0 techniques.
Nitya Shekar [00:04:30]:
Yeah, I think that's really well said. What we want isn't the output, the widgets. It is that creativity, that innate human quality of just curiosity, wisdom, and resourcefulness. And yet we're still using the techniques of decades and decades ago. And so how can we possibly expect to have those creative outcomes? Yeah, absolutely.
Alyssa Dickman [00:04:51]:
Kate Arms [00:04:52]:
I mean, we're using the techniques of shutting down creativity and then being surprised when creativity isn't the result.
Alyssa Dickman [00:05:01]:
Yeah, that was something that really struck me throughout.
I thought we'd have more of a conversation about it later and I'm glad that it has kind of jumped to the forefront, that whole relationship of motivation and creativity. He talks a lot about the extrinsic rewards, and he even goes specifically into salespeople and what motivates them. And he talks about my favorite topic, which is billable hours and different systems that exist in a way that force people to check the boxes. And when we're checking boxes, we're not expanding our thought, we're not expanding possibilities. As you said, it just shuts down creativity, it shuts down innovation. It puts people back in that Taylor type of assembly line. It gives the overall impression of people will work up to or down to your expectations. He talks about how some extrinsic rewards actually impact performance in a detrimental way.
Kate Arms [00:06:11]:
What I find really interesting you brought up the salespeople example is so often salespeople are incentivized by the new business, bring in the new business, bring in the new business, bring in the new business, and commissions for new business. So then they're incentivized to bring in new business anyway.
So they're incentivized to overpromise.
They're incentivized to set the organization up for disappointing their customer. And that's bad for long term relationships.
If you take salespeople who are committed to building relationships and long-term customer bases, which is much better for the organization in the long term, they often feel like they're doing better for the organization and making less money because of it. And it takes a really strong, internally motivated person to decide to do what's good for the company.
Alyssa Dickman [00:07:03]:
There's a lot throughout about the focus on short-term over long-term, which I think is exactly what you're getting at. Kate, in terms of rewards given to reach a certain goal without looking at the long-term impact. And how do we encourage people and give people the latitude which gets into the autonomy, mastery, purpose part of the book to do things the way they determine is the best way towards this bigger goal (as opposed to the short-term goals) of really working to build those relationships and build the organization which in turn builds the business.
Nitya Shekar [00:07:42]:
Yeah, I suppose the way to think about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is what people end up optimizing for.
Because when there is extrinsic motivation, that's what they're going to optimize for at the detriment of the thing itself. Whether that's the health of the organization or sometimes their own health or just the quality of the product or the thing being created.
What I find fascinating is all those studies that are peppered throughout the book that reference how this shows up in kids. I mean, this isn't just adults in the workplace. I mean, it's definitely applicable to the workplace. But even with kids who have this natural curiosity, the minute you start saying, hey, I'm going to pay you to do as many of these as you can or I'll pay you if you finish this, it kills that. Extrinsic motivation to where?
They either don't want to do it anymore or when you start paying them to do the thing and then stop paying them, their motivation just dips all the way down.
And to me, the analogy to the workplace, it's not to say hey, let's stop paying people for work, right? We still live in fundamentally a certain kind of economy. We're paid for labor and such. But if it is, do what I say and do as much of what I say, and I will pay you something that would have been intrinsically interesting even stops being intrinsically interesting when you take away the extrinsic motivator of money. Much more so than if that money were not there in the first place, which I just find really, really interesting and in my own life.
I think this comes up a lot where I'm sure it does for you all too, where we do something for the fun of it because it's interesting and want to do it well. I think this podcast included for me that I have musical endeavors that I pursue and very often I get the question. I'm sure some of you do sometimes too, of like, hey, why don't you turn this into a thing? This could be your side hustle. And it immediately becomes about Why don't you monetize it? And some of that is just sort of capitalist impulses. Right.
But my fear, and I think it's true and supported by this book, is that it'll take away the intrinsic love that I have for that thing and the creativity that pushes me to be good at it or want. To sing better or want to do this podcast better or whatever it is and instead makes it about that money and turns into a hustle rather than just a passion.
Kate Arms [00:09:55]:
It's really powerful to sort of look at the stories of people who have tried to monetize a passion and then it's become a chore and they don't like it anymore. Part of what we have to do as people is figure out where is that place where we are making a living doing something that we enjoy enough.
Nitya Shekar [00:10:15]:
Alyssa Dickman [00:10:15]:
There will always be aspects of any job that are not our favorite. I was actually having a conversation about strengths and working to strengths and helping new leaders talk with their folks about their strength and how sometimes you might ask someone, what are your strengths? And they just look at you blankly because they don't know how to answer that question. So my suggestion is you ask them what part of your job energizes you and what part of your job drains you? And that gives you some insight into where people are the most engaged.
So are there opportunities to increase the things that they do that engage them and decrease the things they do that drain them? Or build some scaffolding around there, give them some more support when they have to do the things that drain them.
But also get to know the group of people and see where there are some good partnerships that can be made because it might stretch your imagination. That something that you absolutely can't stand doing is what someone else where someone else finds flow.
Nitya Shekar [00:11:17]:
Alyssa Dickman [00:11:17]:
You never know just that idea of thinking about what engages you and what engages your people because we just know that when people are doing something they're intrinsically motivated to do, the results are better.
Kate Arms [00:11:30]:
Nitya Shekar [00:11:30]:
And when you take that, Alyssa, in combination with a short-term incentive piece that you mentioned earlier, most companies have some sort of performance management system that is focused by its very nature on short-term incentives. I think some have annual performance reviews. Some places do every six months, every quarter, I've even heard.
Imagine someone not spending the bulk of their time on work that they're intrinsically motivated in. Right. So already they're not doing so great and probably miserable. And maybe the quality of their work isn't that great or as great as it could be. And then imagine you introduce a reward system that is saying how much can you get done in three months or six months? Right. And at that point we're going to check in and see whether we pay you more or not.
And you take those in combination and of course you end up in this cycle where people are just doing whatever it takes to get that carrot at the end of the three or six or twelve months instead of zooming out and saying hold on, why are we doing this? What's the bigger purpose here? Do I even enjoy this? Should I be the one doing this? And all those bigger questions that you mentioned just are never going to be asked in such a system.
Kate Arms [00:12:37]:
Yeah, and I think that it happens at all levels. It doesn't just happen at the sort of front lines it happens when you're talking about a public company that's got shareholders that are looking for shareholder reporting that frequently you've incentivized the entire system from the top down based on short-term results.
Alyssa Dickman [00:12:56]:
What do you think about the statement pay them enough money to take money off the table?
Kate Arms [00:13:00]:
I think that's the only way to actually create a system in which you are building motivated people.
Nitya Shekar [00:13:07]:
I think so too, because there is a certain threshold where of course, people have to pay rent and eat and all these things, and so you have to meet that and then beyond that, it has to be about the work itself and those intrinsic pieces to where they don't want to leave just because the next bigger carrot comes along.
I've certainly experienced that firsthand when I've been in a hiring situation where I'll talk to folks who are at other companies and say hey, we have an opportunity on my team. Do you want to come over? And I'll kind of tell the benefits and things and maybe the opportunity I'm offering them pays more than they currently make but they don't want it. They're not interested right? Because they're like I love what I do here and I'm sure what you're offering is great but the money alone is not enough actually to take me out of here because I'm motivated by something else altogether.
So that's an example to me of what you're saying where they're paid enough to where now money is off the table and where it doesn't matter that much. And I think when people do move jobs really just for or mostly for the money, I think it is that phenomenon we've been talking about to where the extrinsic motivator has become that addictive force where there isn't really the intrinsic motivation.
Kate Arms [00:14:13]:
Yeah, I have several times in my career found myself in places where salaries were skyrocketing for some portion of people involved in the industry and it's always been a bubbling up of demand is high so movement is easy and there's a sort of toxic culture in the industry. The industry is transactional and is taking people for granted. And so the people who have the opportunity to leave for money, they leave from money in an instant. And the salaries skyrocket because everybody's jumping. I'm going to go from Company A to Company B for the raise and I'm going to go from Company B to Company C for the raise and I'm going to go from Company C to Company A who now has to pay me because the entire industry is failing to treat their people well.
Nitya Shekar [00:15:01]:
Alyssa Dickman [00:15:02]:
I was actually at an organization where we had a lot of people that we called Boomerangs, and it was really because they would leave primarily for the raise and then they would be in this other organization and realize that the culture and the opportunities of our organization, the organization they left, actually created a more comprehensive type of compensation for them. And they came back, which I think said a lot about the culture of that organization. And it was just a really interesting thing to see.
Kate Arms [00:15:37]:
Yeah. Being the company that people come back to after they've tried the alternative is really powerful.
Nitya Shekar [00:15:43]:
Kate Arms [00:15:43]:
Alyssa Dickman [00:15:43]:
So I want to move to the next part of the book where he lays out these three elements of intrinsic motivation. He talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose. How did those land with you?
Nitya Shekar [00:15:56]:
I have worked with that framework before in classes I've led and in my coaching work. And so I think folks who are listening to this episode, if you've taken any sort of leadership class or other type of learning experience, it's possible you've engaged with the autonomy, mastery, purpose. Because I think that's the stuff that really stands out from this that people hold onto because it's pretty sticky.
I like it. It's intuitive, for sure that that's what intrinsically motivates people. Autonomy, for sure. And I think mastery, I think those really speak to the freedom we crave the desire to be good at what we do and confident in what we do and really kind of own our capabilities. And I think purpose is an interesting one because I think if you think about purpose as being motivated by something larger than yourself, larger than just me and my survival and my ego, I think it makes a ton of sense.
I think it's something that companies are, on one hand, paying a lot more attention to nowadays by trying to motivate their employees, by connecting them to a purpose. Maybe that's the company mission or values or what have you. In my mind, it's also the trickiest one because sometimes purpose can be used to sort of overshadow the other two. And it's like, but the purpose is so great and employees are like, yeah, but I don't actually have autonomy over how I achieve that purpose. And I can't set my own goals or do this on my own time or I'm not being given the training that I need in order to master the skills to do it or what have you. So, purpose can be a tricky one, and I think companies have to be careful not to inflate that one too much because the others, autonomy and mastery, are equally important.
Kate Arms [00:17:30]:
The thing about purpose is that if the company's mission is good enough, it feels like it justifies some not dealing with these other things.
And purpose, it's easy to articulate, and by easy, I mean it can be a little difficult. But it's easier to articulate a purpose that is compelling from an organization than it is to actually do the organizational, structural things that really make autonomy and mastery fly.
I think that it's really important to recognize that these three things go together and that you can't separate them and you can't say, well, we've got purpose, so deal with a little less autonomy. We can't actually do that.
Martin Seligman has a framework that I really like for thinking about how people flourish. People mostly know Martin Seligman from his work on happiness, but his later work has been like, oh, happiness isn't enough. Flourishing has more components. And that in fact, part of why people who are optimizing for happiness don't flourish is because they miss the other components, because happiness is a short-term, fleeting thing.
Here we are talking short-term, long-term, and his five components are basically different language for Daniel Pink's three autonomy, mastery, purpose. He calls them different things, but they're basically the same concept, plus positive feelings and relationships. I think that there's something about keeping those other two in mind that matters.
But, yeah, I do think that the structural systemic what does it take to organize a business that actually is able to enable people to pursue mastery and to enable people to pursue autonomy? They're tricky, and they require treating people as individuals, not as headcount, and they require finding ways of doing the kind of matchmaking that Alyssa was talking about earlier and based on people having actually really quite different strengths and motivators. So I think that's really important.
And I know that there's also a place in the autonomy piece that individuals have to take responsibility for themselves, individuals have to take responsibility for all of this. But I see it most in the autonomy piece in terms of places it goes wrong. In organizations I've worked, we're interdependent as people working in organizations, as people in life too, but as people working in organizations, we're interdependent.
And the reason for having an organization is to do more than any one person can do by themselves, and so must collaborate. So, in this context of having to collaborate, what does autonomy mean? It means having some leeway and some flexibility and having a structure where not everything about how I do and what I do is told to me, but part of it is also looking at what is the space that I can have impact on, that I can just choose, given these circumstances, here's how I'm going to be. So, there is also this personal piece of where can I be a choice, given what I'm already faced with.
Nitya Shekar [00:20:45]:
There are, I think, degrees of each of these, depending on where you are. And I think what you're speaking to, Kate, is that even in the most rigid traditional structures, the question becomes, what am I at choice to do here?
That's kind of from the employee perspective, from the leader perspective. Even if you work in a highly regulated environment where you can't just be like, set your own strategy and do whatever you want to do, there's just industries where you can't actually really do that. Even there as a leader, that's where leaders, you have to get creative and say, okay, we can't just do whatever we want, but how can I perhaps allow my teams to set their own timeline for something, right? Or maybe I can say, look, these are the only options we have, these five or six things, we can't get wildly creative. Beyond that, these really are the only options. But you choose from those, right?
So, there are ways you can get to autonomy without it being just the total Wild West either. I think, I think the same goes for the others with mastery and purpose. I mean, when I think back to roles that I've had, I know that for me, a lot of times purpose came from actually interestingly, from that other framework you were saying, Kate, from relationships. Those kind of went together.
For me, the purpose came from the relationships. It wasn't so much about the company mission. The thing that was larger than me, that I was committed to and motivated by, were the people around me who were just really cool and fun and smart and I just loved being around them and I wanted to achieve great things with them. And so that's where that came from.
So, I think it depends where you work, especially if people listening here are like, look, I don't work for one of these progressive tech companies that talk about all this stuff because there are plenty of industries that just aren't there. And that's fine, but I think you can still define these in the way that you want.
Kate Arms [00:22:27]:
The interesting thing about the difference between progressive companies that are trying to move in this direction and companies that haven't really moved there at all is that lots of the so-called progressive companies are face-to-face with the HR policies, incentivizing things and trying to figure out how to work with that because they've realized that the incentive systems aren't working. Or they haven't figured out that the incentive systems aren't working. Or the other thing that shows up, and you mentioned regulatory compliance issues.
Some of the most innovative companies are distributing compliance rather than having a part of the organization that is like we're about compliance in whichever sort of area of regulation it is and then how do we get them to do this? Distributing responsibility for compliance more widely across the organization is a way of giving autonomy. It's saying :here are the compliance requirements that we have. How can you make your work fit into we have to demonstrate this to that agency or we have to demonstrate this to that insurer.
Alyssa Dickman [00:23:34]:
Yeah, you were talking about the autonomy in terms of having that control over what you do, how you do, with whom you do it, all of that. And you're right, maybe in some places you can't have control over all of those. But knowing that this is an important motivator for people, where is that?
It makes me think of one of my favorite sayings that I learned a long time ago from a mentor, which was to give the cows freedom, put a fence around the meadow. So just saying to people, go do whatever you want to do. Sometimes people are just, they freeze, they don't even know what to do. And you can actually give people more autonomy by saying these are the guardrails. So that's how you can enforce a certain level of compliance or limits to things, but then within that they're free to get stuff done however they see best.
Kate Arms [00:24:30]:
It's a really powerful thing to recognize that in terms of creating space for autonomy, mastery, someone else to sort of figure out how to use their purpose to do this thing. If someone's taken a job, they've aligned part of their purpose with working here and there's a piece of how much space can you give them? Because I think that's the really challenging thing that happens when we're leaders trying to implement this because they're not going to do it the way that we would. And when they first start trying to do it, we're probably not going to see the results that we want to see.
And if they've come up through a place where they haven't been given autonomy, then they haven't sort of gone through the messy learning of how to do this thing. And if they're stretching themselves into mastery, they're going to make mistakes.
And if we're leaders trying to create this, we actually have to be okay with it looking messy and step back and keep an eye on what are the guardrails, what are the minimum maximums around the important things that we need to do? Revenue and cash flow being super important and probably like the main things. Do we actually have the revenue and the cash flow for this level of flexibility?
Nitya Shekar [00:25:38]:
I also want to mention briefly about mastery. I think that too requires a ton of intentionality, just like we're talking about with these other two, autonomy and purpose, where it's really, really important for leaders to take a step back and have those intentional conversations with employees on how much do you feel like you are tapping into your capabilities in doing what you're doing?
Meaning to put it in really simple terms, like what percentage of your time do you feel like you're actually being stretched and that this is hard for you? What percent of time are you like, I got this, I can do it back in my hand, I can do it in my sleep. And what percentage are you? Maybe somewhere in the middle.
And I think you may think as a leader, you know the answers to those questions but in all likelihood you don't because very often people may not want to admit that something is hard for them. I think Pink talks a lot in the book about how that can cause anxiety when you're stretched too much or too much of the time and how if you're not stretched enough, you're bored.
And so if you're seeing signs of boredom or anxiety in your people, it's interesting because I think the conclusion a lot of people might come to is like, well, they hate this job and it's like, well maybe, but more likely it's that they're not quite aligned in terms of their capabilities. And if you just mix that up in a different way to where they're doing things they're good at but also are being pushed a little bit, not too much, there's this kind of perfect mix that actually can get and keep people really, really motivated. It's not just that like oh, they hate the job, that can be hard to do, right? Not everybody can achieve that perfect mix of capabilities in their job to where they're like that perfect amount of stretch. But I think it is absolutely the leader's job to have those conversations and help their people get to that right mix.
Kate Arms [00:27:20]:
Yeah, it's hard organizationally because some people are going to learn really fast, just sort of all the time and they may be progressing through competencies faster than your performance review system allows for. So, the number of people who are really, really fast learners who end up leaving because they've actually learned two career steps up the ladder before they're being considered for the next step up because of what the norms are around promotion in this organization.
At the same time, if you've got an organization that is sort of rapidly promoting people and is rapidly growing people and has a real sort of growth language, people who learn slowly or who aren't really interested in stretching themselves at work because they're stretching themselves so much in their lives outside of work that they've only got so much capacity to learn. They're going to feel like there's something wrong with them and they don't fit because they're not like these hyper-motivated got-to-learn pieces. Even if they're progressing and they're learning and they're developing mastery. And sometimes an organization that is really interested in growth forgets that it creates stability if you've got people who aren't really interested in pushing themselves way high on the career path.
Nitya Shekar [00:28:33]:
Yeah, it's true. I'm glad you're bringing up, too, people's lives outside of work in this and how it can impact motivation, because it is absolutely true.
We're talking about motivation at work, but of course, what's going on for someone outside of work is going to impact how much autonomy, mastery and purpose even matter to them, in a sense, right? I mean, I think that I've certainly met leaders in my lives who are like, you know what, I do a ton of volunteer work, my free time, and I have kids and I spend a lot of time with them. That's where I get my purpose. And so, I don't know that I need to find it at work, which is fair also.
So, we don't want to kind of force purpose on those people either. It's a reminder that this is an art more than the science. I suppose I was just going to.
Kate Arms [00:29:12]:
I think that part of what we're seeing in the shuffling of knowledge workers and work from home or going back into the office and that kind of thing. A lot of that is that work from home gave a lot of these people forced autonomy in terms of it was harder to control people who weren't in the office.
Lots of employers were like, okay, this is crazy. We'll just figure it out. You just do what you need to, and supported autonomy in a way that they hadn't. And a lot of people realized, hey, wait a minute, I can get my job done in a way that isn't dictated to me and I can be effective and thrive more. And I think that's part of what we're seeing.
Alyssa Dickman [00:29:47]:
Nitya Shekar [00:29:48]:
I think the only other thing I wanted to mention was about flow, and we have alluded to it in this episode. But just to circle back to the concept of flow, which I'm guessing many of our listeners have heard about from other sources, I think that it can be a really useful exercise to check in with ourselves on when are we in states of flow and what does that look like for us? When are we feeling that sense of, I got this, I can't even really feel time going by. I feel like things are just fallen into place and I could do this for hours and hours and not really get tired. And whenever you feel like, gosh, I'm like, I'm on a roll, it can just be really useful to then step back and say, well, what were the factors or components that contributed to that? I think certainly autonomy, mastery and purpose are very likely going to be present right when you're in flow. I think that's one thing that's mentioned in the book.
But it can be useful to leaders too, because that's the leader's ideal, is when you have a team where most people are in flow most of the time, that's what you want, actually, if we were to just simplify all the kind of jargony stuff that's what you want, I don't know. It can be useful exercise. Kate, you mentioned the pandemic. In this new world of work that we're in, how often do we actually find ourselves in that state versus just trying to get things done? And end of the day check can be a really good exercise.
Kate Arms [00:31:08]:
The thing that I find interesting about flow is we're going to get it wrong. And when we get it wrong on the low challenge side, it usually is okay. Like, if we're stretching for that place of just enough challenge that we're all engaged and we're moving forward. If we get it wrong on the low side, it's not as interesting, but we can usually be effective. If we get it way low, then we get bored.
If we get it a little bit too intense, we go to anxiety and might get to analysis paralysis and that sort of thing. And I think it's really, really important to notice and to know that, because it means that if we find ourselves in that overwhelm, analysis paralysis, anxiety kind of stage, one of the questions we can ask ourselves is, where did I stretch myself too much? And so it's not, "and I'm not good enough." It's actually okay, I've just pushed myself a little bit past my capacity.
But, it's when you just go over where you are for flow just a little bit, and you end up in this place of anxiety. To know that maybe you don't actually have to step back very far to find flow can be really powerful to know.
I think the thing that I want to throw into this is that this book is more than ten years old. It brought a lot of awareness to this kind of psychology and motivation, and it's traveled through a lot of circles. A lot of people have read this book, and a lot of people have incorporated some of these ideas or tried to incorporate some of these ideas.
What's happened in a lot of cases is that people have tried to incorporate these ideas and not succeeded. So, there's a lot of literature that's out now, and I'm seeing a lot of the new writing that's trying to build on this and then asking the question, how do we actually operationalize this? What do we actually need to do? Because just adding this to what we were doing before wasn't working. So, I think that this is useful and it's not enough.
Alyssa Dickman [00:33:05]:
I really appreciate that point of view. Kate that was something that I wanted to look at when I brought up this book. And to use Nitya's words from earlier, there was something, and there still is something very sticky about this. I mean, you just kind of hear those three words autonomy, mastery, purpose. Autonomy, mastery, purpose. And it definitely stuck with me.
And so that idea of just kind of going back to this source and seeing more of the details. Where did this come from? And then to your point, Kate, absolutely. Where have these ideas been implemented? Well, where do we need something different or some additions to really motivate and to understand the motivation of people in organizations?
So what are your Thinkaways from Drive?
Nitya Shekar [00:33:49]:
My big Thinkaway comes from the assumption and really the foundation underlying the book, which is that the nature of work has changed and yet the way that we have set up motivation structures hasn't changed. To keep up with that is a really interesting one and I think one that applies to certain types of workplaces and not all.
I think in reading this book it occurred to me a lot that there are plenty of workplaces that fundamentally really haven't changed in the last century. We still have plenty of people working in places that are assembly lined and where concepts like this just really aren't ready to land because the nature of work is so totally different and it's all really necessary work. To summarize my Thinkaway is what could motivation look like in those workplaces that aren't the tech companies and the financial firms and these kind of places, but places where it is work that is necessary often for survival. And yet I think we can take some of these concepts and start to work them into those environments as well, to make workplaces a little bit better, a little less stressful, a little less oppressive in those types of environments as well.
Alyssa Dickman [00:34:57]:
I think mine might be very similar to Nitya's in terms of just thinking about what can this look like? Even if you're not ready to dive headfirst and give someone complete autonomy or give them a six-month sabbatical to go learn everything they can and achieve mastery, where are the areas where you can create those guardrails within which people can really express their creativity and take things on in their own way? And then I would be curious to see what comes of that because I think there are some outcomes, new ideas and some possibilities that would open up if we give people those opportunities.
Kate Arms [00:35:39]:
So I'm going to go in a different direction with my Thinkaway. One of the things that struck me reading this was some of the stories about people who set themselves extrinsic goals and who are working towards and valuing those extrinsic rewards, who get the financial payoff and aren't happy and get the short-term happiness boost but don't feel like they've accomplished anything meaningful.
And the training that we get based on how we've been motivated in the past has an impact on what we value and what we're going for. The question that I have here is in the land of are the values, the things that you've been pursuing, that you're setting as goals, are they those extrinsic rewards? Are they those carrots and stick kind of things? And if so, what impact is it having on you that that's what you're valuing? Are there negative consequences? And are there other things you might want to pursue?
Nitya Shekar [00:36:42]:
That was Leadership Arts Review. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening right now and leave us a review. It really helps us get the word out there.
Kate Arms [00:36:51]:
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Alyssa Dickman [00:37:00]:
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Nitya Shekar [00:37:04]:
Leadership Arts Review is a Four Impala production. Music adapted from Nathaniel Wevern's "Sanctuary of the Sky Gods" under license.