Why you Should Upgrade to Motivation 3.0

Listed Under: Blogs

Why you Should Upgrade to Motivation 3.0

What is the secret to motivation and engagement in the workplace?

One of the pleasures of living in lockdown Britain in 2020 was having time to create new music playlists to listen to as I worked from home. One such playlist tapped into all the music I remember listening to as a child and the lyrics of one song struck me as very relevant to the world we currently live in.

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, playfully watching me
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, intellectual, cynical

There are times when all the world's asleep
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
Please tell me who I am

© extract from The Logical Song by Supertramp

Please tell me who I am sounds like a clarion call to find or rediscover purpose, as if the writer has lost his mojo and/or his motivation. I reflected on how often I had been hearing this from people I was talking to. Is motivation in the workplace in crisis?

Around the same time, I read Daniel H. Pink’s book “Drive. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. In the book he offers the analogy that motivation operates a bit like the software that powers a computer. As leaders we need to upgrade to the most up-to-date software!

Motivation 1.0 is about our internally driven, biological needs. We all need to eat, drink, rest, sleep etc.

Motivation 2.0 is about external factors and is focused on either rewards (things we want) and punishments (things we don’t want), the so-called “carrot and stick” approach.

For many decades the carrot and stick approach to management has been seen as the best way to motivate people in the workplace. In many workplaces this is still the favoured approach, and it is causing all manner of issues around productivity, well-being, and employee engagement.

In certain limited circumstances it can work, but with the changing nature of work driven by economic uncertainty and complexity, technological advancement, and changes in society values, it has limitations and very often doesn’t work. This type of extrinsic motivation gives rise to behaviour where we act in accordance with external rewards.

Motivation 3.0 is about our inbuilt need to seek out novelty and challenges, to self-direct our lives, to get better at stuff, to explore and learn new things. This type of motivation comes naturally to us as young children as we try to talk, walk, and explore the world around us, fuelled by our independent will and our curiosity.

This type of intrinsic motivation gives rise to behaviour where we act in accordance with what matters to us internally, no matter what others think.

What operating system does your business run on? Are you fuelled solely by a focus on productivity and profit?

The rise of the B Corporation movement suggests many people believe we need a new way to operate where we balance purpose and profit.

B Corps consider the impact of their business decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment. Leaders in these businesses are driving a global movement using businesses as a force for good and very likely fuelled by Motivation 3.0.   

As modern leaders we need to understand how to tap into intrinsic motivation in ourselves and in the people we lead. We can nurture this behaviour by focusing on 3 key “nutrients”

  1. Autonomy – this means having a degree of control of your time, your tasks, your technique (how you do things) and your team (how you interact with others). It means holding yourself to account to be productive and add value. Ask yourself this question, “What am I accountable for and how can I control and influence delivering these things?”
  2. Mastery – this is about getting good at doing stuff. It is a mindset that says, “I choose to put in the time and energy needed, to practice with focus and I accept I will fail but I will use this as a learning opportunity”. Ask yourself this question, “What do I want to get really good at and why?”
  3. Purpose – this is about providing context for being autonomous and working towards mastery. It means focusing on WHY you do what you do, it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. Discovering your sense of purpose takes time. Once you start to realise what it is, you should be able to capture it in a short sentence but start with small steps. Ask yourself this question, “What did I do today to improve myself and why does that matter to me?”


Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why, How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” is quoted as saying “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute”.

If you want people emotionally invested in your business, contributing their best work you should considering upgrading to Motivation 3.0.

Zentano are partnering with Employee Engagement experts WeareDNA to discuss this topic in our webinar on Wednesday 13th October 2021, click HERE to join us and find out more.