Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does

The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging

Susan Fowler

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, September 2014

Top leadership researcher, consultant and coach Susan Fowler says stop trying to motivate people! It’s 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. In this book, Fowler builds upon the latest scientific research on the nature of human motivation to lay out a tested model and course of action that will help leaders guide their people toward the kind of motivation that not only increases productivity and engagement but that gives them a profound sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Fowler argues that leaders still depend on traditional carrot-and-stick techniques because they haven’t understood their alternatives and don’t know what skills are necessary to apply the new science of motivation. Her Optimal Motivation process shows leaders how to move people away from dependence on external rewards and help them discover how their jobs can meet the deeper psychological needs—for autonomy, relatedness, and competence—that science tells us result in meaningful and sustainable motivation.

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About the Author

Susan Fowler has over 30 years’ experience as a researcher, consultant, and coach in over 30 countries around the globe in the field of leadership. She is the lead developer of The Ken Blanchard Company’s Optimal Motivation program, which has been implemented worldwide.

Fowler is widely known as one of the foremost experts on personal empowerment. Extensive experience and knowledge gained through 15 years of advertising, sales, production, and marketing across the United States prompted Susan to develop methods and tools for leaders and those they lead to gain the mindset and the skill set for achieving their highest level of success. With every opportunity, Susan acts as a catalyst for helping people to adapt their behaviors in order to thrive and flourish.

She is the bestselling author of Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard and Laurie Hawkins, in addition to Achieve Leadership Genius with Drea Zigarmi and Dick Lyles, Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard, The Team Leader’s Idea-a-Day Guide with Drea Zigarmi, Empowerment with Ken Blanchard, Good Leaders, Good Shepherds with Dick Lyles, as well as audio programs on mentoring—Fostering Your Careers Most Crucial Relationships and Overcoming Procrastination.

Susan received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and business from the University of Colorado and is a professor in the Master of Science for Executive Leadership program at the University of San Diego. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Angel Faces, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping adolescent girls with severe burn/trauma injuries.