Business Leadership Today

Top 10 Books on How To Motivate Employees


Muriel Call, Staff Writer

Keeping employees motivated is one of the most critical yet challenging tasks for any organization. Employee motivation is not just about offering monetary incentives; it’s about creating an environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and driven to excel.

Motivated employees are the backbone of any successful organization. They bring energy, creativity, and commitment to their roles, driving the company toward its goals. They are more productive, provide better customer experiences, and are less likely to leave the organization, reducing turnover costs.

Unfortunately, motivating employees is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s not a one and done process. What motivates one employee might not work for another. What motivates employees can change over time. This can make employee motivation a challenge.

Understanding the different ways to motivate employees is essential for any leader. Fortunately, many insightful and thought-provoking books can help leaders excel in the fine art of motivating. 

In this article, we will explore the top 10 books that provide insights into how to motivate employees effectively. These books offer a wealth of knowledge, from understanding the psychology of motivation to practical strategies that leaders can implement in their organizations.

1. Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process by Matt Tenney

Inspire Greatness is the new best-selling book by Matt Tenney is a revolutionary book that provides a scientific approach to leadership and employee motivation. It presents a simple, scalable, four-step process that any leader can follow to inspire greatness in their team members and improve performance consistently.

Key Takeaways: 

The book outlines a four-step process for leaders to bring out the best in their team members:

  • Taking responsibility: Leaders should take responsibility for employee engagement and act from the understanding that their primary job is to inspire greatness in their team members.
  • Identifying needs: Leaders should identify what team members need to thrive and do great work.
  • Collecting feedback: Regular feedback should be collected on how well direct supervisors are meeting the 14 universal needs people have for being engaged at work.
  • Pairing feedback with learning: Feedback for leaders should be paired with bite-size learning that is easy to consume and act on immediately.

The book highlights the significance of closely aligning employees’ feedback with focused microlearning for their direct managers. This approach creates a highly effective, collaborative impact by significantly enhancing the chances that managers will develop long-term habits that positively impact employee engagement. 

Additionally, it enables employees to witness prompt and meaningful action in response to their feedback.


By adopting Tenney’s approach, leaders can create a work environment where employees feel motivated to give their best, resulting in improved performance, increased job satisfaction, and, ultimately, organizational success. This book also enables leaders in the organization to find deep meaning and fulfillment in their work.

Purchase Inspire Greatness

2. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Drive by Daniel Pink is a best-selling book that presents a new perspective on motivation. It challenges the traditional belief that incentives like money are the most effective way to motivate people, and highlights the importance of intrinsic motivation in achieving high performance and satisfaction.

Key Takeaways: 

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does. He examines the three elements of true motivation:

  • Autonomy: Most of us have the desire to direct our own lives. 
  • Mastery: Most of us want to get better and better at something that matters. 
  • Purpose: Most of us want to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

He also offers innovative and surprising techniques for putting these elements into action.


Drive is a transformative book that outlines principles to help leaders unlock their employees’ true motivators. By applying these insights, leaders can drive better performance and satisfaction in the workplace.

Purchase Drive

3. Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does by Susan Fowler

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does challenges traditional ideas about motivation and introduces motivation science as a tool for addressing leadership challenges like managing hybrid work arrangements, retention, and increasing employee engagement.

Key Takeaways: 

In this updated post-pandemic edition, Fowler elaborates on her groundbreaking approach to leadership:

  • Spectrum of Motivation Model: Fowler identifies six motivational outlooks, ranging from sub-optimal to optimal.
  • Ineffective motivators and their consequences: Fowler explores overused tactics such as gamification and tokens and investigates the reasons behind The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting.
  • The case for evidence-based leadership: Fowler’s approach to leadership is fresh, pragmatic, and inspiring, and it is also based on solid empirical evidence.
  • Self-Determination Theory: Fowler equips leaders with the necessary skills to encourage choice, deepen connection, and build competence.


Fowler’s method boosts retention, reduces turnover, and improves acceptance of DEIJ initiatives. This book is a practical guide for leaders to understand and utilize motivation science for a more productive workforce.

Purchase Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does

4. Manager’s Guide to Motivating Employees by Anne Bruce

Manager’s Guide to Motivating Employees by Anne Bruce is a comprehensive guidebook for managers who want to inspire their employees to perform at their best. The book includes engaging case studies and examples that show readers how to create a work environment in which employees are passionate about their jobs.

Key Takeaways: 

The book provides a comprehensive guide for effective management: 

  • Proven tactics: Bruce offers strategies to create strong relationships and ensure effective communication with employees. 
  • Key terms and concepts: Bruce clearly and concisely defines key terms and concepts, making the information presented accessible to all audiences. 
  • Practical advice: Bruce gives actionable and practical advice to minimize the possibility of errors. 
  • Examples and techniques: The book includes examples of successful management and outlines specific planning procedures, tactics, and hands-on techniques.


The Manager’s Guide to Motivating Employees is a valuable resource for managers. The book provides practical tools and strategies to motivate employees and improve performance, work environment, and bottom-line results. It helps create an engaged, motivated, and committed workforce, leading to overall productivity and success.

Purchase Manager’s Guide to Motivating Employees

5. Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others by Stephen M.R. Covey and David Kasperson

Trust and Inspire by Stephen M.R. Covey and David Kasperson advocates for a leadership style that emphasizes trust and inspiration to unleash the full potential of individuals rather than traditional hierarchies and compliance.

Key Takeaways: The book offers a simple yet bold solution to the leadership crisis:

  • Shift in leadership style: Covey suggests shifting from the “command and control” model to a leadership style of “trust and inspire.”
  • People-centric approach: The book emphasizes that people don’t want to be managed; they want to be led. It advocates for a new approach to leadership that starts with the belief that people are creative, collaborative, and full of potential.
  • Future of work: Covey offers a solution for the future of work, fostering trust and collaboration in a geographically dispersed workforce across time zones, cultures, and technologies.


Trust and Inspire is a new approach to leadership in the 21st century. By adopting this style, leaders can unlock the full potential of their employees, motivating them to become their best selves and produce their best work. This leads to a more engaged, motivated, and productive workforce, which ultimately contributes to the organization’s success.

Purchase Trust and Inspire

6. Chief Inspiration Officer: How to Lead the Team Everyone Wants to Be On by Val Ries

Chief Inspiration Officer by Val Ries is a leadership playbook that offers a fresh perspective on leading an inspiring team and teaches leaders how to unlock their team’s full potential to achieve better results and develop future leaders.

Key Takeaways: The book offers critical techniques through dozens of real-life examples. It will help you:

  • Inspire excellence: Motivate yourself and those around you to become the best possible version of themselves.
  • Understand motivation: Gain an understanding of the factors that motivate your team to be productive, engaged, and loyal.
  • Drive vision: Ensure that your team is aligned with your goals and vision and works together to make progress toward achieving them.
  • Hiring and firing: Be certain about whom to hire and when to terminate their employment.
  • Handle difficult conversations: If you find yourself in a challenging conversation, you can redirect it easily and confidently.


Chief Inspiration Officer offers practical tools and strategies for motivating employees, leading to improved performance, a positive work environment, and a stronger bottom line. Applying these principles can create an engaged, motivated, and committed workforce, enhancing the organization’s productivity and ensuring long-term success.

Purchase Chief Inspiration Officer

7. Creating Passion-Driven Teams: How to Stop Micromanaging and Motivate People to Top Performance by Dan Bobinski

Creating Passion-Driven Teams by Dan Bobinski is a comprehensive guide that teaches managers how to create the right conditions for passion to emerge in their teams. With insights from 20 years of consulting experience, best practices, and neuroscience research, this book is a must-read for managers looking to improve team performance.

Key Takeaways: The book offers several key techniques and strategies, including:

  • Motivate without manipulating: Discover ways to motivate your team without using manipulative tactics.
  • Turn mistakes into quality drive: Learn how to transform mistakes into a passionate motivation for achieving high standards.
  • Equip teams for change: Ensure your teams are well-equipped to embrace change enthusiastically.
  • Create excellence-driven environments: Learn how to create an environment where people strive for excellence.


Creating Passion-Driven Teams is a guide that helps you discover and utilize your team’s innate motivations to achieve consistent, exceptional performance. With the help of the principles laid out in this book, leaders can create a work environment where employees are motivated and passionate about their work, leading to improved performance.

Purchase Creating Passion-Driven Teams

8. The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden

The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden is a practical and thought-provoking guide to achieving great things. It challenges the belief that motivation is the key ingredient needed to start any major change. Instead, Haden suggests that motivation is a result of the process, not a cause, and understanding this can change how we approach obstacles and big goals.

Key Takeaways: 

The book offers practical advice and teaches readers how to develop better habits.

  • New perspectives: The book presents a new way of thinking about how motivation affects success.
  • Practical advice: It provides practical advice that can help anyone stop procrastinating and start pursuing their aspirations.
  • Demystifies achievement: Haden demystifies the achievement process and shows that success is not just about a sudden burst of inspiration or spiritual enlightenment but rather about following clear, repeatable steps.


The Motivation Myth challenges the belief that success is only for the naturally talented. By following the principles outlined in the book, leaders can create a work environment where motivation is a byproduct of the process, resulting in better performance and a more profitable outcome.

Purchase The Motivation Myth

9. The Motivation Code: Discover The Hidden Forces That Drive Your Best Work by Todd Henry, Rod Penner, and Todd W. Hall

The Motivation Code by Todd Henry, Rod Penner, and Todd W. Hall presents a new framework for understanding what motivates us and why. The authors reveal that motivation is not a universal concept, and different people are energized by different things.

Key Takeaways: The book identifies twenty-seven motivational themes, each with its own unique DNA, including: 

  • Achieve potential: Those who strive to achieve their potential work towards creating a better future, even if others cannot envision it.
  • Overcome: One must overcome any obstacles, regardless of their difficulty or time-consuming nature.
  • Comprehend and express: Those who seek understanding and self-expression are passionate about acquiring new skills and sharing their expertise.
  • Make it right: Individuals who thrive on operating within well-functioning systems usually possess a strong sense of what is appropriate to do.


The Motivation Code helps us understand our core motivation, enabling better conversations, informed decisions, and career paths leading to engagement and fulfillment. By activating our inner drivers, we can transform work into something we genuinely enjoy, improving employee motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Purchase The Motivation Code

10. Boosting Employee Motivation and Engagement: A Competency-Based Approach to Increasing Employee Performance by Focusing on the Work Climate by Dr. Wesley E. Donahue

Boosting Employee Motivation and Engagement is a workbook by Dr. Wesley E. Donahue designed to help supervisory leaders improve employee performance by providing practical insights and tools. It addresses real-world challenges supervisors face and guides them in applying what they learn to their work environment.

Key Takeaways: The workbook includes a helpful recap checklist of essential points to bear in mind: 

  • 10 crucial concepts: These concepts include inspiring disengaged employees, facilitating engagement and empowerment, igniting employee motivation, providing clear expectations, leading for optimal performance, being mindful of individual differences, promoting diversity rather than division, being aware of self-fulfilling prophecies, monitoring employee and group morale, and building a positive and productive work climate.
  • Essentials in the workplace: This workbook helps leaders understand workplace engagement, empowerment, motivation, and the importance of building a positive work environment. 
  • Recognizing differences and setting standards: The workbook also highlights the significance of recognizing individual, cultural, and generational differences and promoting high performance standards.


Boosting Employee Motivation and Engagement is a book that will teach you how to leverage your team’s inherent motivations to achieve consistent and sustained top performance. By implementing the principles outlined in the book, leaders can create a work environment where employees are motivated and passionate about their work, which leads to improved performance and long-term success.

Purchase Boosting Employee Motivation and Engagement


If you are a seasoned leader, you know employee motivation is not just nice to have. It is one of the most important components of organizational success. It is the driving force that propels employees to give their best, leading to increased productivity, improved performance, and greater profitability.

This article has explored 10 insightful books that provide diverse perspectives on employee motivation. 

From understanding the true nature of motivation in The Motivation Code by Todd Henry, Rod Penner, and Todd W. Hall to fostering an environment of trust and inspiration in Trust and Inspire by Stephen M.R. Covey and David Kasperson, these books offer valuable insights and practical strategies for leaders.

Each book presents unique approaches to employee motivation, challenging traditional notions and introducing innovative ideas. They equip leaders with the knowledge and tools to create a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and motivated to excel.

As leaders, it’s essential to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all, one-and-done approach to motivating employees. These books can help leaders find the right recipe for their employees’ success, tailoring their motivational strategies to meet their team members’ unique needs and aspirations.

I encourage you to explore these books and implement their teachings in your own leadership practices. A motivated employee is a productive employee. And a team of motivated employees can lead any organization to success.

Muriel Call

Muriel Call

Staff Writer / Editor

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