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Why Motivating People Doesn't Work . . . and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging
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Why Motivating People Doesn't Work . . . and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Top consultant, trainer, and coach Susan Fowler says stop trying to motivate people! Motivating people is frustrating for everyone involved, and it just doesn t work. You can t motivate people they are already motivated, but generally in superficial and short-term ways. Applying recent, often surprising psychological discoveries, Fowler lays out a tested model and course o ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published September 15th 2014 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  390 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Kevin Eikenberry
Susan Fowler says: “Stop trying to motivate people. They are already, but generally in superficial, short-term ways.”

She and I agree, that you can’t motivate people – that is up to them.

In this book, Susan helps trainers, coaches and leaders understand what they can do to go beyond “carrot and stick” style motivation to help people not only be more productive and engaged, but to bring a renewed sense of purpose to their work.

The book highlights the latest research and puts it into context and ma
Ismail Diabolic
Aug 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Omg, this book is so boring, that It make super demotivated. Seriously I'm in no mood to even right this.

Talking about leadership. This book is not for leaders, it revolves around employees & managers to make them feel good about their work.

"The new science of leading" (face palm), what the (expletive deleted) science is doing these days ?

The author lost me when she started explaining why she became a vegetarian, the second time.

This book is contradicting at times and sometimes make no sense
Cheolho Choi
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enough for change my way to live.

This book is not only just for who want to lead people, but for who want to be more responsible and enjoy a mindfulness life. A Right question always leads to a right decision, you can find tons of such questions that help you to get a deep insight about what do people thrive and why they are motivated.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before I make any inadvertently caustic remarks, let me rush to say that I loved this book and its premises resonated with what I already believe. I found its premise that all people are motivated at all times completely believable and trustworthy. I found its categorization of motivation into different categories, some of which are sub optimal and akin to junk food for the soul, completely believable and trustworthy. I loved the belief that motivation is a result of what one believes about why ...more
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Why Motivating People Doesn't Work... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging by Susan Fowler was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2014.


If you feel that your efforts to motivate employees are falling short, you are not alone. Senior consulting partner for the Ken Blanchard Companies, Susan Fowler, reveals that motivating people doesn't work because they are already motivated in Why Motivating Peop
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this book and it has given me another fresh perspective on how to further understand the people around me, especially my team.

The book provides a great and easy to follow guide on how to go through a conversation that explores the quality of motivation of people. I've followed the guide in my own way, and it has opened up quite a number of interesting insights as well as comments from my team. It's a great tool to further understand others.

Although before I use it on others, I
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great perspective on motivation in a society driven by rewards and punishments. It goes beyond basic extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (which itself, isn't even a perspective that is widely understood), and explains a deeper approach to examining motivation, moving away from thinking of motivation as something people do or don't have, but rather focussing on the quality of the motivation they possess and getting to the "why" of the situation. The book's explanations were very clear without bein ...more
John Thurlbeck
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book destroyed some long-held, taken-for-granted beliefs and it was a pleasure in the process. It reads as a fairly academic book; though, nonetheless, is no less enjoyable for that.

Susan draws on modern research, lots of examples and understanding of human behavior/thinking to lay out why it is that people are always motivated; just sometimes that motivation is sub-optimal. She also sets out how we, as leaders, can address this. A real eye opener for me last year and one that I would highl
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A revolutionary book for motivation. We don't motivate others. We arouse their own motivation by giving them Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence. A lot of listening and guiding is the basis of the new method.
Lori Koppelman
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was just my cup of tea. I'm a broken record, but I enjoy reading the combination of science and stories, real life examples of the research are crucial to my getting something. The discussion on the three human psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness and competence especially landed.

Dave Applegate
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall, the best book I've read on motivation both for yourself and others. Fowler does a stellar job not only explaining common myths and issues w/ motivation theory and how to fix them but takes it a step farther and makes the application of these new theories practical.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend Susan's book!
Sara Alamasi
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An interesting book with a new perspective.. never thought motivating others would do them bad if it wasn't done carefully..
Joseph Iliff
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has changed my perspective on motivation thoroughly. A short, easy read full of wisdom about what is *really* going on inside your employees' heads, and yours. Read it and learn.
Paul M.
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I normally dislike most business books, but this one is good. I like the model presented and the research behind it. I see how to utilise it with my own facilitation and dialogue mapping work.
Lisa Kosak
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Motivation is one of the most vital and essential aspects of leadership and one of the most confused and misunderstood. The result of this confusion and misunderstanding is leaders who have become blind to what does and doesn't work - Susan Fowler

One of my joys and strengths as a manager is motivating my team. I always try to have fun and engage everyone to bring out their gifts for success. In particular, I have a knack for coming up with zany sales contests that encourage everyone to participa
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the book it states that everyone is motivated all of the time, as such it is not possible and there is no need to motivate people. The challenge is more to get people excited to work on the things which are important for the company or organisation. It presents the motivation spectrum which shows a desire for high quality self-regulation and physiological needs.

The three physiological needs : Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence.

Autonomy : our human need to perceive we have choices. It is our
Lorenzo Huang
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title at first impact may be misleading, but reading the book it will give reasons for it. It's not that motivation is useless, rather it's motivate what, the reasons behind everyone's value that gives the answer to each one's different reasons and how to motivate differently each person on different level and fields. The WHY is a recurrent subject which can help us to understand how to tackle the problem and boost our will to work harder and more efficiently.
Aarif  Billah
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My reading notes on a book by Susan Fowler and Berrett-Koehler (2017).

Consultant Susan Fowler explains how managers can unlesh the maximum potential of individuals without the need to resort to old fashion carrot-and-stick approach which most likely to create more problems than it solves.
Read more on my reading notes here (
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Volodymyr Nepiuk Nepiuk
Початок книги хороший і основна ідея про зовнішню і внутрішню мотивацію має зміст. Але книга якась «кострубата» схожа на машину яка ніби їде але по дорозі розвалюється, можливо це проблема редактоа або перекладу.
Christian Oltra
Sencillo pero interesante libro sobre la motivación en el ámbito del trabajo
Janne Sinivirta
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite the cringeworthy cover and title, it's not a bad book about motivation and leadership.
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book that provides some great leadership insights for everyone. Totally recommend this book to everyone.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Book says employee performance appraisal process not working and employees need to motivate themselves. People either have to do something or want to do it.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Similar premise to Drive - autonomy mastery purpose thesis as key to motivating. Examples were fine but not earth shattering. Probably could have been distilled into a long white paper
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, boring, self-help
Read this for work. With as many other books there are out to help you motivate others, I would probably not recommend this particular one.
Audi Nugraha
Apr 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Search: Self-Determination Theory
Estevo Raposo
Novedoso (al menos para mí) e interesante planteamiento sobre la motivación. Aplicable en primer lugar y sobre todo a uno mismo, y con algunas recomendaciones relativas a la motivación de los demás.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a coach, I have found that motivation is the engine that drives all human behavior. In this book, Susan Fowler maintains that the most effective motivation is internal rather than external. Carrot and stick approaches don't work as external motivators. Rewards and punishment buy only temporary compliance, likening them to junk food that minimize your long term health. What does work is the absolute necessity to get our psychological needs met. She defines those as autonomy, relatedness and co ...more
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Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her last bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn't Work...And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. Her bestseller, Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard was revised, updated and relaunched September 2017.

She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed res
“Motivating people doesn’t work because you cannot force someone to feel a sense of relatedness. But as a leader, you can encourage relatedness by challenging beliefs and practices that undermine people’s relatedness at work. That means paying attention to how your people feel. That means gaining the skill to deal with their emotions. That means getting personal.” 0 likes
“Brandon explained that initially his team was surprised to learn that when a sports or training coach is vocal, verbally encouraging a trainee—“do one more; come on, you can do it; keep up the energy”—performance is significantly lower than the results achieved with a quiet but attentive coach.6” 0 likes
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