Motivation Sources

Trip Through Wildlife Safari

The second day in Roseburg, OR on our 2021 eastbound Cross-Country Adventure: we decided to tour the Wildlife Safari. We hadn’t been for decades. The Wildlife Safari has over five hundred animals in their drive-through, 615-acre park. Wildlife of the tamer variety wander freely, the elephants, chimpanzees, lions, tigers, leopards, and giraffes are all fenced in.

As we were driving through, we came to a young man selling a $5 cup of animal feed. Before we bought it, I asked, “how do we know the African Fallow Deer will come to the car for the feed?” His response was classic,

“Because they are food-motivated.”

And boy, was he right! When the deer spotted the cup, we thought they might join us inside the Mini Cooper. As you can see on the linked video, it was a lot of fun.

You will never successfully secure the full engagement of your team, until you first understand what motivates people. Sorry to say, it isn’t as simple as a cup of pellet feed. Human motivations, can be summarized to these four overarching motivators:



There are dozens of subsets below these four. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates another way to understand human motivation. These are the things we all need and desire.

It is essential to understand people are no longer motivated by a need which has been satisfactorily met. When you have as much money as you want, you are no longer motivated by money. You have seen how overtime, at time and a half, or even double time no longer motivates. Instead, people resent the extra time at work.

There is one need that can never be fully met. After people feel they have their physical needs met, satisfying self-preservation, what remains are their psychological needs. The desire for recognition, significance, belonging, and appreciation. As William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Vance Packard put it another way, “There is an itch you can never scratch and that’s the need for recognition.”

To fully engage your 2021 team, you must go well beyond satisfying their self-preservation needs with fair pay and fringe benefits. You must find ever better ways to meet their needs for recognition and belonging, a sense of team and community. You must strive to make work purposeful, make people feel appreciated, needed, and recognized as important members of their team.

Start today, don’t delay,
find what motivates your team to stay!

Important announcements about Winter 2021 Leadership Development Lab coming soon!

15 Principles of Engaging Leadership
provides the insights, understanding, and tools you need to bring out the best in your team. You’ll learn how to inspire team members to maximize their contributions and secure their enthusiastic commitment so results exceed your highest expectations.