Book Review: ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink

When I run training workshops on coaching skills for managers, I regularly ask the participants, what are you hoping to use your coaching skills to improve?

I reckon 80-90% of the time it’s – motivation!

Now, before we dive down the rabbit hole of debating whether a manager is responsible for another person’s motivation or whether there’s much that can be done to affect it if they are, let’s agree that it’s admirable and legitimate for any leader to want to use his or her new coaching skills to make an improvement in this area.

In terms of the written word, Daniel Pink’s book, Drive is the best resource on this topic I’ve yet found.

Charting Management Theories

It takes us from the early days of scientific management. Then touches on the theories of McGregor, Maslow and Herzberg. Those which are likely to be familiar to trainers and coaches, and probably a fair few people managers already.
He then leads us to the work of Edward Deci and his theories around intrinsic motivation.

It’s no plot spoiler to say that Pink believes that intrinsic motivation, specifically Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose outlasts the common extrinsic motivators of pay and rewards. For creative, non-routine roles at least. In fact, this conclusion is signposted early on. This is visible in his assertion that there is a difference between what science knows and what business does.

This will be familiar territory for coaches and leaders who often find themselves trying to improve staff motivation in spite of the organisation’s pay and rewards not because of them!
The book will be most useful to anyone trying to generate ideas around:

  • Locating causes of underperformance.
  • Focusing rewards on individuals.
  • Ways to improve engagement and sense of purpose.
  • Easing stress and preventing burnout.

Final Thoughts

Drive is not a book providing an academic treatment of the subject of motivation and doesn’t pretend to be. It also limits its considerations to the world of work. In doing so, leaving the reader to ponder how the ideas apply in other areas of life.
But it’s a good and easy read and ought to be on every workplace coach’s reading list.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink, Book Cover

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