11 questions to uncover motivation

3 critical factors in motivation

Would you also like to know …

  • What really drive yours and others motivation?
  • Why carrot and stick is outdated methods and does not work for most tasks?
  • What you specifically need to do to uncover the motivation of yourself and others?

…. and at the same time be percieved as an inspirational leader?

We are demanding more of our work. A job is not just a job and financial security is no longer enough. We want to be challenged, developed and the work must provide value and meaning. We get motivated by other factors than when a job was something we did to earn money for a living. Back then it was not a requirement that we loved the job.

Employees who work with just a bit of complexity and change, should be motivated through internal factors – autonomy, mastery and purpose. Factors that you as a leader can facilitate using simple questions – and thereby get motivated employees that deliver the best results for the company.


Why carrot and stick don’t work!

Daniel Pink wrote the book “Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us” in 2009. He discovered that the carrot and stick or punishment and reward no longer work. Reward and punishment are characterized as external motivators. Reward and punishment can work with monotonous work, but with tasks that require employees to be innovative and creative, it can have the opposite effect. Reward or punishment can distract from the task and limit the ability to see new opportunities and solutions to problems. Furthermore, it can only be a matter of time before the employee wants a new reward, and perhaps loose the meaning of the work and thereby the intrinsic motivation.


But then what?

To solve today’s complex, ever-shifting tasks often requires right brain activities. The motivation for this kind of activities can be called intrinsic motivation.

Daniel Pink has identified three factors that reinforce the intrinsic motivation.

  • Autonony
  • Mastery
  • Purpose


Autonomy: Freedom and the desire to self-manage your life is a need most people possess. When we have autonomy, we are at once autonomous and satisfied in our interactions with others. This sense of autonomy has a major impact on individual performance and attitudes.

Mastery: The desire to constantly get better at something really matters. Mastery is the sense of ‘flow’ you experience when the challenges we face fit our abilities. When you are in the ‘flow’ you have a clear goal. The ‘flow’ can be a condition that comes and goes. Mastery on the other hand is something we can achieve over time.

Purpose: It is natural for humans to seek a purpose – a purpose that is greater and more lasting than ourselves. According to Daniel Pink will “Autonomous people working toward mastery, perform at a very high level – they who do the same with a clear purpose, can accomplish even more.” The most motivated people, and also the most productive and satisfied, are choosing to link their deepest craving for a cause that is greater than themselves.

The leader’s task is to focus and activate these three elements which results in increased productivity, responsibility and commitment from employees.


Start with yourself!

In order to be an inspirational leader, you have to be motivated for the task itself. You may want to start by asking yourself the 11 questions below.


11 questions for motivation

Here are the specific questions you can ask yourself and your employees to focus on autonomy, mastery and purpose. They are written as if you are a leader asking your employees. You can probably come up with more questions yourself.


  • It is important to me that you are really good at what you are working with and passionate about it. What is it about your work that is really inspiring to you?
  • How can you become even better at it?
  • What can I as a leader do to help you to become even better?


  • It is important to me that you feel ownership of your daily work. Where would you like to have a say?
  • What types of decisions do you feel comfortable making yourself?
  • What will it take for you to feel freedom in your work?
  • What can I as a leader do to help you feel participation and influence in your work?


  • It is important for me as a leader that you feel you can see yourself in the company’s overall goal of …….
  • Where do you see your job linked with the company’s goals?
  • When are your contribution to the companies overall goals most inspiring to you?
  • What can I as a leader do increase the meaningfulness of your work?

When you know the answers to these questions, you can try to create environments and conditions  that match the employees intrinsic motivation. Then you have the most motivated and productive employees.

A nice side effect of these questions is you will get to know yourself and your employees better.

Have fun!