On the Yonder Bookshelf: Drive by Daniel Pink

By: Laurel Farrer


"When we focus on autonomy, mastery and purpose, we provide an environment where the drive within every individual on our team can be liberated which leads to higher productivity, personal growth and job satisfaction."


Welcome to our first edition of “The Yonder Bookshelf,” which is our team’s anthology of great books that can help enhance your remote management and inspire your distributed team.

In June, we read Drive by Daniel Pink per Jeff’s suggestion in his PIAF presentation. It’s a scientific exploration of the power of intrinsic motivation in our professional lives and why carrot-and-stick incentives are hurting our companies.

We chose this book because for most virtual managers, trust is a major concern.

How do I know if my employees are working? Is this my employee’s best work?

You think your employees need a manager to keep them motivated and productive; otherwise they’ll just collect a free paycheck. But would you feel any hesitation about their performance if their work was something like eating a bowl of ice cream or playing with a litter of puppies? Of course not. The task is so appealing that the employee would willingly complete the job with joy and fulfillment as the motivator.

The work that needs to be done in a company can’t always be fun and carefree, but implementing strategies of intrinsic motivation can help managers provide more autonomy to their staff because they know that joy and fulfillment are preventing distraction and inefficiency. We believe that strengthening the intrinsic motivation of your team members will reduce the temptation to micromanage and increase the performance of your staff.  

Important Bullet Points:

  • Enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver.

  • The three elements of true motivation are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

  • Expected rewards kill motivation and creativity.

  • Our goal should be for the reward to become the activity itself.

  • Not all extrinsic motivators are bad. They can be effective for tactile, routine tasks, but should not be provided in an “if-then” scenario.

  • Humans want autonomy over task, time, team, and technique, regardless of the responsibility.

  • Mastery (continuous improvement) requires long-term dedication, hard work, and a mindset that perfection is not attainable.

  • Purpose-based goals must replace or cooperate with profit-based goals.

Action Items:

  1. Offer unexpected, non-monetary rewards that focus on purpose and fulfillment.

  2. Only use extrinsic rewards to narrow focus and push toward a short-term goal.

  3. Provide fair and adequate compensation to all employees and contractors.

  4. When possible, avoid deadlines.

  5. Encourage self-started projects.

  6. Give employees a voice in their goal setting by writing collaborative job descriptions.

  7. In addition to public encouragement, provide specific feedback and praise privately.

  8. To increase productivity, encourage work-life balance.

To quote Mr. Pink, “The secret to high performance is...our deep seeded desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.”

Because of that profound principle, Drive has jumped to our list of all-time favorites, not only for application as remote managers, but for any type of leadership: self-management, education, and even parenting!

Insights from our community:

What about you? Have you seen success in implementing the action items listed above? Or maybe you have a new book recommendation? We would love to hear about them! Tweet us @yonder_io or comment on our Facebook Page.

If you would like to read along with us, July’s pick is Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, which we hope will provide insights on how to strengthen our professional relationships using only virtual tools.

Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored and contains no affiliate links.

Laurel Farrer is the COO here at Yonder. She always has a notebook and pen within arm's reach, never sits with both feet on the floor, and drives (safely) without depth perception.