4 Motivational Theories That Leaders Need To Know Today

Motivation isn’t the input. It’s the outcome.

Andrew Quan
7 min readAug 20, 2020


Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Job satisfaction has never been more challenging. The imposed lockdowns of COVID-19 have required us (forced us) to rethink the way we connect with not only our friends and family but also those within our immediate and extended work teams.

Many people have suffered the loss of employment, and often friends and family. For those of us lucky enough to be employed and in a leadership position, we find ourselves asking the following question:

How do I keep my team upbeat and motivated in a world that finds us increasingly distanced, isolated, and surrounded by noise and negativity❓

Here are four underrated motivational leadership concepts that can help you influence your team with the right motivators to help them achieve at their utmost potential.

1. Hygiene Factors vs Motivating Factors

Changes in incentives, as well as changes to working conditions and environment, reporting structure, are all considered ‘hygiene factors’, according to Frederick Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory. When ‘hygiene factors’ aren’t present, employees become significantly dissatisfied. When hygiene factors are present in excess, they don’t increase satisfaction or motivation much, if at all.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Principles. Graphic from Lumen Learning

Conversely, a focus on ‘motivating factors’ is seen by Herzberg to increase employee satisfaction. These included a sense of:

  • Achievement — giving a feeling of pride, having done something challenging but worthwhile.
  • Recognition — praise and recognition, from both their superiors and their peers.
  • Work itself — work that is interesting, varied, and challenging.
  • Responsibility — employees feel that they own their work.
  • Job advancement — promotion opportunities where possible.
  • Growth — the opportunity to learn…



Andrew Quan

VP of Product @ TIER Mobility | Memos on Product, Leadership, Startups, and the Mind | andrewquan.net