Drive by Daniel H Pink

This week I finally finished ‘Drive’ by Daniel H Pink, on ‘The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’.

It’s built around self-determination theory, coined by Deci & Ryan, that says humans have three innate psychological needs – Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness. And this ‘Type I’ behaviour, that is made, not born, will emerge when people have autonomy over:

  • Task
  • Time
  • Technique
  • Team 


Therefore, the story flows, it’s these areas that companies and leaders should focus on to create the right conditions for motivation, as opposed to the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach:

‘Carrot and Sticks can diminish performance, crush creativity, encourage cheating, foster short-term thinking, and become addictive.’

So fairly compelling reasons to find another way. And these on the dangers of introducing rewards:

‘They can perform a weird sort of behavioural alchemy… transforming an interesting task into a drudge, play into work, and send performance and upstanding behaviour toppling like dominos.’


Sebastian Coe: ‘Throughout my athletics career, the overall goal was always to be a better athlete than I was at that moment – whether next week, next month, or next year. The improvement was the goal. The medal was simply the ultimate reward for achieving that goal.’

On ‘management’:

‘Perhaps its time to toss the word ‘management’ into the linguistic ash heap… This era doesn’t call for better management. It call for a renaissance of self-direction.’

And on creating a workplace that does the right thing because it wants to, not because it’s people are told to:

‘Imagine an organisation that…wants to make the world a better place by creating a more diverse workforce. By reducing ethics to a checklist, suddenly affirmative action is just a bunch of requirements the organisation must meet to show it isn’t discriminating. Before, its workers had an intrinsic motivation to do the right thing, but now they have an extrinsic motivation to make sure that the company doesn’t get sued or fined.’


Pink also quotes a number of other leadership gurus throughout the book, including this well-known line from William McKnight, 3Ms President:

‘Hire good people. And then leave them alone.’

Definitely one to add to the Christmas list if you’re interested in leadership, motivation, or books that I should have finished a long time ago.


I really hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, I’d love you to subscribe to my blog at to get new thoughts sent to you on an infrequent basis, and find me on twitter @johnJsills.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s