Miles River Press


Chapter 1 Theories of Motivation
Chapter 2 What Motivates?
Chapter 3 The Innovator
Chapter 4 The Expert
Chapter 5 The Helper
Chapter 6 The Defender
Chapter 7 The Self-Developer
Chapter 8 Self-Development
Chapter 9 The Motivating Organization
Chapter 10 Motivating Leadership
A. On Methodology
B. A Note on Value Drives
C. Results from the Values at Work Questionnaire
D. The AT&T Managerial Interview Questionnaire
E. Workplace of the Future: 1992 Contract Language


It is much easier to change technology and organizational roles than it is to change people. In my work with organizations trying to change, I have seen a need for all those involved — managers, employees,— union officials to understand why people work and especially what motivates them to help make an organization succeed. Managers need to understand how and why people, starting with themselves, differ in their motivation. They also need to be able to turn this diversity into a source of strength rather than conflict. Knowing about what motivates people at work can make leaders more effective, companies more competitive, and government more efficient. At the same time, this knowledge can inoculate employees from manipulation by management, since they will better understand themselves and their bosses.

When I wrote Why Work in 1988, it was clear to me that the theories of motivation taught in business schools and management seminars did not fit the changing workplace and the values of the workforce. These theories were and are misleading and have impeded change. Employees were dissatisfied with their leaders, and the leaders did not understand why. This is still the case. According to every survey I have seen, a majority of employees do not trust their leaders.

Since publishing the first edition, I have surveyed hundreds of senior managers on the gaps between what is most important in their leadership roles and how well they are practicing these functions or tasks. In every case, one of the largest gaps they indicate is that of motivating people.

I have chosen to revise this book because my understanding of the motivating values of today's workforce has become clearer as I have used the theory of social character described here to help leaders adapt to the dramatic economic, social and technological changes transforming our world. People are energized by their values. The theory of social character explores the dominant values that determine motivation, and it allows us to differentiate five value types: the expert, helper, defender, innovator and self-developer. These value types cut across categories of gender, generation, and culture or ethnic group.

In this second edition, I have added new material describing what I have learned during the seven years since the publication of Why Work.The research my colleagues and I have carried out, much of it in the context of transforming organizations, has convinced me that change is a never-ending process. Even the best of organizations can fall apart without good leadership. Many of the most heralded models of organizational excellence have become complacent and unable to adapt to the ever changing business environment. Markets change, new competitors emerge, new products and methods are created; but organizations still depend on motivated people. To build and lead the great organizations that create wealth, leaders will continue to need motivated followers. In the modern organization, creative energy and commitment will not be gained by hype and will not be bought by money alone. It will be developed and strengthened by leaders who understand, respect and engage the productive values of people at work, leaders who do not manipulate but who motivate with integrity.


During the past seven years, the historical changes described in the first edition of Why Work? have become more apparent. These changes require a rethinking of what motivates people at work.

  • The first historical change is that the nature of work continues to shift from manufacturing to service. Over 70 percent of the workforce is now in the service sector.

  • The second dramatic historical change that I believe affects motivation is that people can no longer count on lifetime careers in a single company.

  • A third transformation occurring in today's workplace is that the social character of the workforce continues to change from the traditional experts adapted to functional roles in the industrial bureaucracy to the new generation of self-developers who are better adapted to service in the age of information technology.

The new generation of today's self-developers have typically been raised in a family with dual wage earners who share work and child-rearing roles. At an early age, these self developers learn they cannot always count on their parents to be around when needed. Today's children have to learn interpersonal skills to get along with one another in day care centers and nursery schools and to support each other in the absence of their parents. These childhood experiences form people for whom both self-reliance and teamwork feel natural. Sharing ideas and networking are easy for them. Knowing that they can't count on lifetime employment in an ever changing market, they naturally put a premium on self-development in order to maintain their employability. This shift in family structure continues. During the 21st century, most employees in the U.S. and Western Europe, at least, will be self-developers, shaped by the combined forces of changing technology, education, and family life.


The social character types described in this book ‹ expert, helper, defender, innovator and self developer ‹ describe values that are shared by people everywhere. These types are somewhat different from the way in which Americans usually categorize themselves. Americans enjoy describing themselves by place and historical generation. In an extremely mobile society, a way of forming fast friendships is connecting with people who come from the same place in time as well as space. Thus people will say: "We are from Texas" or "We are both from the '60s, we are Baby Boomers." People are also characterized by others as representing a time, as in "He is an '80s person," implying that he is greedy and hedonistic. Some Americans also type themselves by ethnic groups as in African-American, Italian-American, or Swedish-American.

Today, there is a diversity of values in how people approach their work, but this kind of diversity cuts across gender, generation, culture, and ethnic groups, although these variables do interact with the types. For example, there are an increasing percentage of self-developers among the young today.

However, while some academics maintain that women manage differently from men because they care more about relationships, the research presented in this book indicates that this difference is more characteristic of the older generation. In the traditional workplace, women were more likely than men to be helpers, and men experts. In the new generation of self-developers, there is little difference between values of men and women at work.

Strong cultural differences imply different values embedded in the family, religion, ethnic, and national traditions that form social character. Thus, Asian Confucian values emphasize family obligation as contrasted to the Western value of individualism. This influence affects all types, and particularly the style of leadership that most motivates. Furthermore, groups that have felt oppressed or marginalized, such as African-Americans, are more likely to develop defender values.


This book provides concepts that explain how values determine not only individual differences in motivation at work but also styles of work and leadership. Understanding these different styles enables one to describe and understand the logic that determines a person's choices, emotions, and behavior at work.

Although Why Work? describes the factors essential to motivation, it is not a book on how to motivate. Doing that depends first on understanding the complex interaction between people and organizations that determines the way people work. The book is intended to provide that understanding and to be used both to increase understanding of differences among individuals and to evaluate the tools or systems that organizations use to motivate employees. The book is also useful in helping readers to understand the people who serve us when we are customers and those in government who regulate, guard or police us. The better we understand one another, the better our relationships will be.

Managers from some of the most technically advanced companies in the world have found my theories of social character useful in understanding differences in approaches to work and management styles. These companies require high levels of knowledge matched with increased teamwork, both within their organizations and with customers. Such corporations are bridging the gap between the old bureaucratic industrial world and the new world of technoservice. They find that the more people understand each other, the better they communicate and work together.

I have arranged the plan of this book in the following way:

Chapter 1 describes the nature of motivation and the differences between the ideas in this book and theories currently being taught in business schools and management seminars.

Chapter 2 discusses the values that motivate us and how they are formed.

Chapters 3 through 7 describes the five social character types: innovator, expert, helper, defender, and self-developer. How do they approach work? What makes work meaningful to them? What does each find satisfying and dissatisfying? What do they want from a boss, and how do they behave in the role of manager? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Chapter 8 focuses on the meaning of self-development and the role of individual responsibility in achieving it.

Chapter 9 brings together the lessons of how to motivate different types of people for empowerment in the new workplace in terms of the 4Rs: responsibilities, relationships, rewards, and reasons.

Chapter 10 describes the style of leadership required to create the motivating organization. This chapter includes a matrix of the positive and negative qualities of each leadership style which executives have found useful for evaluating themselves and each other.

When using the concepts presented in this book, readers need to keep in mind that no value type is good or bad. Each type has positive and negative potentialities. It is important to remember two principles:

  • Those people who are the most extreme examples of a type are the ones who have the most difficulty adapting to change.

  • Those people who tend to balance the values of expert knowledge, helping others, respect for individuals, innovation and self development are most adaptive and effective.

Organizations will succeed in motivating people with different values when their responsibilities, relationships and rewards are all aligned with peoples' values at work, and when employees believe there are meaningful reasons for performing their work. This book describes motivation at work as a relationship between individual values, leadership styles, and organizational practices. To understand these relationships and the differing values underlying them is to understand what will motivate the new workforce.


The concept of motivation describes the impetus to act with energy and purpose. We are all motivated to: eat, sleep, have fun, make love, and work. The challenge for management is to discover what motivates people at work to do what is necessary for the organization to succeed. In the past, in the industrial-bureaucratic era of rigid hierarchy and electromechanical tools, management's task was to motivate employees to obey orders and perform set tasks. Today, in the age of service industries (and especially information age technoservice), managements' task is to motivate employees to take responsibility for: solving problems, responding to customer needs, cooperating with team members, and continuously improving products and services. In the industrial bureaucratic era, motivation for most workers was mostly compliance, showing up on time, and doing what they were told to do. Only a small percentage of managers and professionals was expected to exercise personal judgement. In the technoservice era, this kind of compliance is not enough; another type of motivation becomes essential. The organization requires people who are motivated, enabled, and empowered to achieve results by exercising judgement.

There are two kinds of motivation. One is extrinsic motivation, which has to do with control, getting people to do something they may not want to do. Extrinsic motivation is caused by positive or negative incentives. Carrots and sticks. These are most effective when people are in need or afraid. Well-fed people do not jump for carrots, and self-confident people do not allow bosses to beat them. Intrinsic motivation, the second kind of motivation, results when internal drives and values are engaged at work.

When I ask today's employees to rank what they most value in their work, they choose a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors . Extrinsic factors include better pay and benefits, employment security, opportunity for advancement, and working conditions. Intrinsic factors include challenging work, enjoyable work, meaningful work and above all, opportunity to experience a sense of accomplishment. However, what is challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding depends on employees' individual values (and skills), which differ among people at work.

Sometimes, as we shall see, the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic becomes blurred. Pure intrinsic motivation implies that people would be motivated to work, even if they were not paid, as is the case when people play a game for fun. Pure extrinsic motivation implies that people would not be motivated to do something unless they were paid. In fact, most people need to be paid for their work, even though they may put as much or more of themselves into games and volunteer activities. An increasing number of new generation self-developers take a job for the pay and benefits, but they are intrinsically motivated by other work such as artistic or volunteer activities.

Motivating employees requires designing jobs that engage their values and provide satisfying rewards. This requirement is a challenge not only to managers, but also to employees whose values (intrinsic motivation) are adapted to the bureaucratic-industrial world and not to that of technoservice.

The chapters of this book present examples of how different types of people are motivated. To give an example, the experience of police officers illustrates the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In terms of intrinsic motivation, there are three types of police officers, each driven by different constellations of values. Most are experts who are motivated to work within the rules, solve problems, and apprehend perpetrators who break the rules and commit crimes. A small percentage of the officers are defenders who are motivated by their desire to protect society from bad people and punish criminals. These officers are often frustrated by rules and technicalities, which can be used by criminals to escape what they consider their just deserts.

A former New York City police officer said he finally quit his job after he had arrested the same person for drug selling three times and each time, the judge had let him go free because there was not enough evidence. Being a defender, the former police officer yelled his frustration at the judge, accusing him of irresponsibility and ineptitude. When the officer was cited for contempt of court, he decided to resign.

The third type, the helpers, want to help people avoid trouble. Police officers who are helpers are frustrated by demands that they spend their time in ways that may lead to arrests, but do little to prevent future troubles. The extrinsic motivations used by police departments typically reward and promote police officers for the number of arrests they make. This approach is motivating for the expert type, but not for the helper types who are seldom promoted. They are not appreciated for resolving conflicts on the street or engaging teenagers in sports or other activity that directs the young people away from crime.

While these three types of people and kinds of intrinsic motivation are most common among the police officers we interviewed, in business organizations we often find a different distribution of intrinsic motivation and social character types, including innovators and self developers. This distribution exists because businesses have had to change and have attracted and retained people who are not satisfied with the status quo.


To understand what motivates ourselves and others, we must identify the dynamic values that determine our needs. Such an understanding leads the way to both organizational productivity and development of our individual potential at work. Values are slippery concepts. They can be defined as "a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable." This is the way we think of a statement of corporate values. They are principles or ideas considered desirable by top management. They may or may not correspond to group behavior. We also think of human values in a broader sense as the energized patterns of perceiving, thinking, wanting, and acting that determine individual and group behavior. I call these patterns value drives.

All of us are born with dynamic tendencies, drives that direct our actions. For example, we respond to pain with flight or fight; we are driven to repeat pleasures, master the environment, and communicate. While all human beings share these dynamic tendencies, they express and direct these different values according to the culture, acting through family, school, and workplace. Those value drives or energized values shared by members of a social class or culture comprise their "social character."

Social character is a biologically necessary function of culture. Human decision-making is less genetically programmed than that of other creatures. Our shared values (social character) allow us to act instinctively, as it were, in ways that are common to members of a culture and that facilitate effective social relations. Otherwise, we would be overwhelmed with conflicting impulses and paralyzed by the constant demand to evaluate and decide what to do and how to interpret the behavior of others. Enough must be programmed into us to participate in the culture. But we also need flexibility to adapt to change. In our education, we human beings need a balance between structure and freedom.

As we grow up, we can develop these values by defining ourselves, deciding what we should do or not do in different situations, and disciplining ourselves with good habits so that we can achieve desirable goals. However, few people make the effort to define and shape their values. Most people do not question the values taught them; they accept the values taught in family, school, and workplace. Indeed, those who are unable to internalize these values are unable to adapt to the mainstream society. Only when these values conflict with each other or don't work will most people start thinking about changing their values. Now is such a time for people who have experienced dramatic changes in the workplace. An example of those experiencing change is the group of experts who must transform hierarchial values that may have worked to gain them their management position, but impede their ability to work effectively on teams.

Value drives are the energized way in which human beings satisfy the strivings that we all share for survival, relatedness, meaning and various forms of self-expression. How do we determine which are the shared drives that become the values and needs which motivate people at work? Psychologists and psychoanalysts study motivation through experiments and clinical observation. In this book, I try to integrate their findings in the light of my own experience with the emotionally disturbed in my consulting room and with ordinary people at work in many different cultures.

The search for goals and behaviors common to all cultures leads me to group value drives into eight categories: survival, relatedness, pleasure, information, mastery, play, dignity, and meaning. This is not a hierarchy of values; every person expresses each drive in some form. Furthermore, values may be in conflict. At certain times, one drive will dominate. The value of survival usually takes precedence over the others, but not always. For example, a person may risk death to preserve dignity or freedom, or to protect others, or death may be accepted because it has religious meaning. Some people risk their lives for the pleasure of mastering mountains or winning car races. Paranoiacs sacrifice relationships in their drive for elusive total security; their investment in defense leaves little energy for health, education, and welfare.

Because all eight value drives are what make us human, we cannot rank any of them as necessarily higher versus lower. But each drive can be expressed in values that are either lower-primitive and childlike‹or higher‹mature and developed. Higher values expand consciousness and inner freedom, increase hope and creative power. Work can be a means for developing our values and becoming more integrated and purposeful, or it can cause a conflict of values, for example between achievement and close family life.


In the motivating organization, people are engaged by their responsibilities, by the challenges that are part of their job. They feel supported by their relationships, and satisfied by their rewards. Furthermore, they understand organization goals and find them meaningful, worth achieving. In such a situation, the organization connects with both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. It engages the whole person at work.

The managers who lead the organization should be evaluated by how well they create and lead a motivating organization. Indeed, the term manager comes from the Italian maneggiare (from Latin manus, hand), to handle, to wield, to touch, to manage, to deal with, to break in horses, to handle horses ‹ to train and direct animal force. For human beings, these forces combine mind with body, head with gut and heart. Directing human motivation requires understanding values and needs and creating opportunities to express, satisfy, and develop them. This approach is as true for managing ourselves as it is for leading others.

Companies hire people who have shown that they can work hard and well. These people come to work with strong intrinsic motivations. The task of management is to understand these motivations, develop rather than frustrate them, and direct them to work that needs to be done. Although radical individualists may consider this to be manipulation, most employees welcome leadership that provides them the opportunity to exercise their skills, develop their competencies so that they can get better jobs, and play on a winning team.

People at work want bosses to use power, but they want it used productively, to create power for them also. Leaders who claim they have no power or do not want it are not seen as becomingly modest; they are considered weak bureaucrats who should be replaced by those who do have power. However, people at work eventually resent a leader who manipulates, motivating by seduction, false promises, and unreal visions of opportunity. The leadership style for the new workplace. This chapter describes the organizational practices that motivate, and conceptual tools that leaders can employ. These are: responsibilities, rewards, relationships, and reasons ‹ the four Rs.


Leaders are needed to transform the industrial bureaucracies, to create and continually improve motivating organizations for the age of technoservice. How can we best describe the kind of leaders who are needed? According to the dictionary, a leader is someone who leads, directs, or commands. But there are many different ways to lead, and how well people are motivated to follow an organizational leader depends in large part on the fit between the motivation of the leader and the motivation of the led.

In every culture, the ideal leader is one who is motivated to achieve the common good. However, the attributes of the ideal leader are different in different cultures and historical eras. In the Confucian cultures of Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and to some extent, Japan, the ideal leader appears to be a benevolent father figure. People in those cultures want to follow such a leader, even if he is demanding and even depostic. As long as followers are convinced that the leader is acting for the good of the organization-family, these people will follow a benevolent despot, like Lee Kuan Yew who is credited with building Singapore into a prosperous city-state. In contrast, the ideal Swedish leader is first among equals, an admired expert who builds consensus through participation. In Germany, the ideal corporate leader is the master craftsman who expects subordinates to provide fact based views on issues. He then analyzes this feedback and arrives at a decision, which must be obeyed quickly and efficiently. In each culture, people want to follow a leader who exemplifies the best in the social character while working for the common good. Such a leader will give people a feeling of hope and a sense of meaning. Although he may have to govern with a firm hand, particularly in a time of change, it will be with the consent and approval of the governed.

In companies today, people want to follow a leader who appeals to the work ethic of our time. They look to leaders who offer the realistic hope of personal success and at the same time, stimulate motivation for the common good, including the motivation to understand and satisfy customer needs and create an organization that contributes something useful to society.

How democratic can a corporate leader be? This depends on our definition of democracy and the type of company involved. In a small partnership or cooperative, it is natural for the owner workers to make decisions based on voting or consensus. To some degree, small, self-managed teams in large companies can do this within guidelines set by corporate leadership. However, their decisions can be overruled by management. In large companies, democratic practice is limited not only by questions of ownership, but also because everyone does not have the information and knowledge to participate in all decisions.

When speaking of democratic decisions making, a corporation, of course, is not a country. It is more like a subculture that seeks to attract some of the most gifted, motivated, and highly trained members of the society and organize them to create wealth. To do this, it must respect the values these people bring with them. It must also compensate for skills that are not developed so strongly outside a corporation, particularly skills of communication: writing and reading, speaking and listening, dialogue and problem solving. The large corporation has become the leading institution in modern society for defining the skills and values that families and schools should teach the young.

However, the aim of the corporation is not to guarantee individual liberty to pursue happiness, but to satisfy customers in such a way that their purchases generate a competitive return on investment compared to alternative uses of capital, while operating within the boundaries of law and national custom. We join a corporation not because it is a right we are born to, but because we see it to be in our interest.

The corporation in turn needs people who implement its strategy. It demands more discipline than does the general society, more precision, and a greater concern for excellence. It demands that highly ambitious individuals temper their drives and work together for common goals. It requires that employees who might be happier doing something else see their own futures as involved in the company's success. It needs to transform intrinsic motivation into motivation for corporate success.

The corporate vision must satisfy all stakeholders and be meaningful to employees if they are to be optimally motivated. In the past, it might have been enough to feel part of a powerful army, to identify with the elite, to feel protected, well-rewarded, and highly regarded. Doubtless, this is still a part of corporate appeal. People want to belong to a winning team. However, the most independent and creative of the new generation do not find these meanings to be sufficient. In increasing numbers, the young seek to develop themselves at work intellectually and emotionally, but they do not want the workplace to dominate their lives. Their aspirations fit the needs of companies for innovative projects and profit centers, provided that leaders can inspire them.

To answer the question, Why Work?, we have explored intrinsic motivation, the values that drive human behavior and how these connect with the new workplace. In a time of transition from the bureaucratic-industrial to the technoservice mode of production, both people and organizations struggle to adapt. Even the most advanced technology created by brilliant engineering innovators will be of little use if the workforce is not motivated to use it. We have seen that the self developers are more in tune with the new workplace than are the experts and helpers, but the latter offer values of excellence and care that remain essential for quality work and good leadership. Although different people bring different intrinsic motives to work, all want to express themselves and satisfy a combination of needs for survival, mastery, dignity, sociability, pleasure, understanding, caring for others, and creativity. All want their needs for fair pay and good working conditions satisfied. But they will be motivated only if organizations empower them to perform their responsibilities, and if leaders present them with visions and goals that make their work meaningful and give them hope for a positive future. In the final analysis, most people need to work, not only for material rewards, but because they want to exercise their abilities and to feel valuable to themselves and to others. A major challenge of our time is to create meaningful work for all those who want it.

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