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Toward a New Curriculum
of Leadership Competencies:
Advances in Motivation
Science Call for Rethinking
Leadership competencies are designed to equip leaders with the knowledge, skills,
abilities, and other characteristics, required to effectively lead people toward the
achievement of organizational goals. However, advances in motivation science,
specifically the development of self-determination theory, suggest that many current
leadership competency models contain outdated approaches to motivation that
undermine their intended purpose of leadership effectiveness.
New motivation leadership competencies grounded in self-determination theory are
recommended to promote leadership behaviors that support people’s psychological
needs. These foundational competencies take advantage of compelling motivation
research to provide a filtering mechanism for culling outdated competencies proven
to undermine effective performance, but also provide the basis for congruent
leadership skills that promote flourishing in the workplace.
Human resource development (HRD) practitioners will benefit from the rationale
and recommendations for introducing a new set of competencies based on self-
determination theory into their leadership development efforts. While executives or
leaders in the team and organizational contexts will appreciate the consideration of
expanding or rethinking their own leader behaviors, the new competencies are most
relevant for leaders of individual contributors in the one-to-one context.
1University of San Diego, CA, USA
Susan Fowler, The Ken Blanchard Companies and University of San Diego Senior Consulting Partner,
The Ken Blanchard Companies, 15644 Kingman Rd., Poway, CA 92064.
756644ADHXXX10.1177/1523422318756644Advances in Developing Human ResourcesFowler
2 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
motivation, leadership competencies, leadership development, self-determination
Employee development is one of the most time-honored and vital duties within human
resources (HR) functions (McLagan, 1989). Competencies specify the knowledge,
skills, abilities, and other characteristics, required for effective performance (Rodriguez,
Patel, Bright, Gregory, & Gowing, 2002; Schippmann et al., 2000). Central to employee
development, competencies are the basis for training curricula, performance standards
and reviews, promotion criteria, and career planning. Beyond employee development,
competencies also influence protocol and decision making for selection and hiring, com-
pensation schemes, retention management, succession planning, and supporting organi-
While competencies affect employee development at all levels and within a variety
of contexts, this article focuses on the competencies and skills a leader uses in the one-
to-one leadership context to develop and guide individual staff members. Leadership
in the one-to-one context presents the most intriguing opportunity for immediately and
directly impacting employee performance, employee engagement and work passion,
culture, and organizational results (Zigarmi, Fowler, & Lyles, 2007).
Scientific breakthroughs in understanding human motivation provide an impetus
for rethinking the competencies required for leading in the one-to-one context. The
purpose of this article is to recommend three new motivation competencies based on
the unifying framework of self-determination theory (SDT). These foundational com-
petencies are designed to promote leader behaviors that ensure people thrive while
achieving organizational goals.
Genesis of Competencies
Providing the rationale for rethinking leadership competencies can best be appreci-
ated by understanding how the current landscape of leadership competencies devel-
oped historically and the role motivation played in its evolution. Variations of four
base leadership competencies established by Evers and colleagues, namely, manag-
ing self, communicating, managing people and tasks, and mobilizing innovation
and change (Evers, Rush, & Berdrow, 1998), are widely accepted and are still rel-
evant in today’s workplace, with added consideration for global complexity and
dynamic techno-social realities (Berdrow & Evers, 2014; Chalofsky, Rocco, &
Within the base leadership competencies, many of the specific leader actions and
requisite skills for how to manage people and tasks were derived from turn-of-the-
century thinking, such as those established in 1916 by Henri Fayol and his 14 princi-
ples of management, which was popularized in the early 1950s (Fayol & Storrs, 1949).
Fayol’s name may not be evoked today, but research on competencies currently in use
shows that Fayol’s ideas based on top-down, authoritarian, command and control
principles continue to influence modern concepts of management (Evers & Rush,
1996; Wren, Bedeian, & Breeze, 2002).
In addition to Fayol’s influence, a variety of notable leadership theories have had a
major influence over the competencies that dictate current leadership development
strategies. A survey of top HR-related books and websites that guide management
strategy and competencies for “motivating and bringing out the best in employees”
cited six top leadership theories (“Popular Management Theories Decoded,” 2017).
They are Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Theory (1856-1915), Fayol’s Management
Principles (1841-1925), Max Weber’s Bureaucratic Theory (1864-1924), Elton Mayo’s
Human Relations Theory (1880-1949), Ludwig Von Bertalanffy’s Systems Theory
(1901-1972), and Douglas McGregor’s X&Y Theory (1906-1964).
Four of the six leadership theories-in-use have a top-down, authority-based, com-
mand and control approach to leadership in common. An argument can be made that
command and control leadership might be warranted when time is of the essence and
risks are high (Blanchard, Zigarmi, & Nelson, 1993). However, in general and over
time, this leadership style has been shown ineffective for developing people (Bass &
Bass, 2008), generating long-term or sustainable high performance (Gagne & Panaccio,
2014), or promoting people’s health and well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Except for McGregor, the most popular leadership theories influencing HR profes-
sionals also tend to be leader-centric rather than focused on employee needs.
Competencies based on these leadership theories represent different assumptions and
implications for motivating others, and, for the most part, consider employees’ needs
and the issue of motivation peripheral to leadership, rather than central or vital to
Existing side-by-side with leader-centric competencies, three motivation theories
seem to have had the most influence on the development of leadership competencies
(Reio & Batista, 2014). They are Skinner’s Theory of Operant Conditioning (Skinner,
1938), McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory (McClelland, 1985), and Maslow’s
Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1954).
B. F. Skinner’s Theory of Operant Conditioning, sometimes referred to as managing
with carrots and sticks, provides HR professionals and managers an easy way to legiti-
mize the command and control approach to management (Skinner, 1938). Those who
practice this theory assume that by controlling the consequences of an employee’s
behavior through rewards or punishment, they can shape an employee’s behavior
McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory posits that every person is driven to sat-
isfy the three needs for achievement, affiliation, or power (McClelland, 1985).
Research has shown, for example, that a person exhibiting a strong need for power
predicted successful leadership (McClelland & Broyatzis, 1982). Buoyed by such
findings, and McClelland’s role in competency development (McClelland, 1985),
Human resource development (HRD) professionals embraced competencies focused
on the strength of a leader’s need for achievement and power.
At some point in their careers, most leaders have either consciously—or more
likely, unwittingly—based (or justified) their approach to motivation on Maslow’s
4 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1954). Maslow’s idea that people are motivated by sat-
isfying lower level needs such as food, water, shelter, and security, before they can
move on to being motivated by higher level needs such as self-actualization, is prob-
ably the most well-known motivation theory in the world.
Potential Issues With Current Competency Models
Potential theoretical, operational, and pragmatic problems arise with competency
models that mix and match various leadership models and motivation theories.
Consider a common competency derived from Lominger’s original 67 competencies
(Lombardo & Eichinger, 2004) often found in a manager’s performance plan:
Drive for Results: Can be counted on to exceed goals successfully; is constantly and
consistently one of the top performers; very bottom-line oriented; steadfastly pushes self
and others for result. (Lombardo & Eichinger, 2004, p. 315)
This competency assumes that an effective leader has high needs for achievement and
power, potentially reflecting McClelland’s achievement theory. While McClelland’s
contributions to competency modeling are widely respected (McClelland & Broyatzis,
1982), more recent research finds that promoting leadership competencies based on
McClelland’s drive for achievement or power is just as likely to have negative conse-
quences for performance and well-being—for both the leader and the people being led
(Deci & Ryan, 2014). Leaders driven by needs for achievement, power, or affiliation
are more likely to generate low-quality motivation in themselves and others that com-
promises short-term results and sabotages long-term results (Gagne, 2014).
Consider another competency derived from Lominger’s original 67 competencies
(Lombardo & Eichinger, 2004) often found side-by-side the competency to Drive for
Results in a manger’s performance plan:
Motivating Others: Creates a climate in which people want to do their best; can motivate
many kinds of direct reports and team or project members; can assess each person’s hot
button and use it to get the best out of him/her; pushes tasks and decisions down;
empowers others; invites input from each person and shares ownership and visibility;
makes each individual feel his/her work is important; is someone people like working for
and with. (Lombardo & Eichinger, 2004, p. 219)
One way of interpreting hot buttons might be using carrots and sticks to motivate
people, which reflects Skinner’s operant conditioning approach which assumes a per-
son in power can manipulate people’s behavior through rewards and punishment.
Skinner’s influence on competencies that promote authoritarian leadership models
through external rewards (incentives, power, status, etc.) and punishment (pressure,
fear, guilt) cannot be underestimated. Current motivation science provides compel-
ling evidence that the tactics often used to drive for results thwart the type of motiva-
tion required to get those results (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Neither should we underestimate
the potentially adverse effects these strategies have on productivity, creativity,
innovation, sustainable performance, and people’s health and well-being. Current
research is only beginning to illuminate the high price paid to drive results by trying
to motivate people using carrots and sticks (e.g., Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999; Ryan
& Deci, 2017).
However, the Motivating Others competency could also be interpreted as taking
people’s needs into account by empowering them, inviting and sharing ownership and
visibility, and making individuals feel their work is important. Maslow is often cited
as the inspiration for competencies that tend to people’s needs (Kremer & Hammond,
2013). While Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was an important contribution to the dis-
cussion of psychological needs, unfortunately, little to no empirical evidence exists to
prove a hierarchy of motivational needs (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Regardless of whether
a hierarchy exists, current motivation science has granted us a new way to understand
psychological needs, and offers a promising alternative.
When it comes to building leadership competencies and requisite skills, not taking
the breakthroughs in understanding human motivation into consideration can hurt—
figuratively, by constraining proactive behavior, limiting productivity, stifling perfor-
mance, diminishing creativity, inhibiting innovation, sabotaging results; and literally,
by generating ill-being and mental and physical health issues in the workplace.
Recent motivation research makes a compelling case for alternatives to leadership
competencies that drive for results and promote pushing oneself or others to get those
results. A major strength of SDT is that it provides an empirically supported (Gagne &
Deci, 2005; Gagne, 2014; Murayama et al., 2013) and field-tested framework for
motivation (Fowler, 2014) that can be applied within the one-to-one context to pro-
mote high-quality motivation while producing desired organizational outcomes.
Advancing Leadership Development Based on SDT
This article proposes a two-step approach to guide HRD professionals for introducing
new leadership competencies in the one-to-one context based on SDT. Specifically,
they are as follows:
1. Familiarize leaders on the compelling empirical research and business implica-
tions of SDT.
2. Introduce three new motivation competencies to integrate SDT and the leader-
ship behaviors required to achieve organizational results and promote employee
Familiarize Leaders on SDT
SDT has found its way into mainstream literature over recent years (Fowler, 2014;
Pink, 2011), yet has yet to influence the leadership competencies used to develop lead-
ers or circumvent the integration of traditional theories such as Operant Conditioning,
Achievement Motivation, or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Adapting leadership com-
petencies based on SDT requires HR professionals and organizational leaders to
6 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
understand SDT and appreciate its implications on organizational leadership—espe-
cially in the one-to-one context.
For example, SDT poses that the focus on motivation should shift from the quantity
of motivation a person has for a goal to the quality of their motivation. Some motiva-
tion is low-quality and suboptimal. Some motivation is high-quality and optimal. SDT
provides a solid body of empirical evidence demonstrating the implications for empha-
sizing the quality of a person’s motivation (e.g., Deci et al., 1999; Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Low-quality motivation thwarts optimal functioning resulting in short-term, sporadic
performance that does not support well-being. High-quality motivation promotes opti-
mal functioning that leads to productive performance and individual long-term health
and flourishing. If leaders understand that their job is to help people experience high-
quality motivation, they might be less likely to depend on external rewards to stimu-
late action and more likely to focus on helping people experience a sense of autonomy
and meaning related to the goal.
Leaders need to be educated on how to nurture people’s optimal motivation through
their satisfaction of three basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and
competence (ARC; Deci & Ryan, 2000, 2002). These psychological needs are founda-
tional for all human beings to thrive and flourish, are empirically validated, universal,
and, when satisfied, result in high-quality motivation (e.g., Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Understanding people’s psychological needs for ARC and the implications associated
with supporting or thwarting these needs provide the key for reshaping leadership
competencies. Leaders can help people satisfy people’s psychological needs through
their behaviors, but they can also erode them (Bartholomew, Ntoumanis, Ryan, Bosch
& Thøgersen-Ntoumani, 2011).
Autonomy is a person’s need to perceive that they have choices, that what they are
doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions (Deci
& Ryan, 2002). Leaders erode a person’s sense of autonomy by using controlling lan-
guage, imposing goals and metrics, depending on rewards and incentives to manipu-
late behavior, micromanaging, and applying pressure (Hardré & Reeve, 2009).
Relatedness is a person’s need to care about and be cared about by others, to feel
connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are
contributing to something greater than themselves (Deci & Ryan, 2002). Leaders
erode a person’s sense of relatedness by failing to provide rationale for work, promot-
ing metrics without meaning, ignoring feelings, and generating isolation through lack
of justice and transparency (Fowler, 2014).
Competence is a person’s need to feel effective at meeting everyday challenges and
opportunities, demonstrating skill over time, and feeling a sense of growth and flour-
ishing (Deci & Ryan, 2002). Leaders erode a person’s sense of competence by focus-
ing on performance outcomes at the expense of learning outcomes, punishing mistakes,
and failing to provide appropriate direction and support (Gunnell, Crocker, Wilson,
Mack, & Zumbo, 2013).
Introduce Three New Motivation Competencies
The good news is that HRD professionals can support employees’ psychological needs
for ARC by teaching leaders in the one-to-one context a specific set of skills (Hardré &
Reeve, 2009) and ways to adapt traditional behaviors, such as goal setting, to be more
ARC supportive (Fowler, 2014). This article recommends leadership competencies that
support people’s psychological needs with the intention of nurturing a workplace envi-
ronment where people are more likely to shift their motivational outlook from subopti-
mal motivation to optimal motivation and experience high-quality motivation.
Three competencies that integrate SDT are proposed to HRD professionals to help
leaders achieve organizational results while fueling employee work passion and the
inherent benefits that come from actively engaged individuals at work (Shuck, Roberts,
& Zigarmi, 2018; Thibault-Landry, Egan, Crevier-Braud, Manganelli & Forest, 2018).
They are (a) Encourage Autonomy, (b) Deepen Relatedness, and (c) Build Competence.
HRD professionals should consider these motivation competencies as founda-
tional—meaning they influence leadership behaviors across contexts and categories of
Definition and Requisite Skills to Encourage Autonomy
The competency of encouraging autonomy is defined as the leader’s ability to help
people perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own voli-
tion, and that they are the source of their own actions (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Instead of
applying pressure, demanding accountability, and incentivizing or manipulating
behavior, this competency includes skills where leaders
1. use noncontrolling language that invites a perception of choice,
2. illuminate boundaries, then explore choices within those boundaries,
3. collaboratively set goals and help reframe goals as relevant, and
4. present goals and timelines as valuable information necessary for achieving
Autonomy does not equate to freedom. Autonomy is a person’s perception of choice
and sense of control or volition, regardless of whether they have the freedom to act—it
is their internalization of their circumstances that determines their experience of
autonomy. Many roles demand strict adherence to rules, regulations, and process. The
way those limits are communicated can facilitate the employee’s internal frame of
reference toward or away from perceived autonomy.
Avoid establishing boundaries in a way that erodes autonomy, such as “When
selling our pharmaceutical product, you must adhere to strict FDA guidelines
including (state guidelines). If you go outside the bounds of these guidelines,
you face immediate termination.”
8 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
Instead, illuminate boundaries and explore choices within those boundaries:
“When selling this product, there are strict FDA guidelines including (state
guidelines). You need to stay within these boundaries to protect your client,
yourself, our company, and most importantly, the patient who is prescribed the
drug. Within these limits, however, you still have the freedom to make choices
and decisions that will affect your client relationships, the quality of your pro-
posals, and the effectiveness of your efforts. Let’s talk about the choices you
have that might influence how you approach selling this product.”
Encouraging autonomy requires communicating workplace requirements and per-
formance feedback as data or information which the employee needs to be successful,
without generating feelings of being controlled by pressure, fear, guilt, shame, power,
status, or tangible and intangible external rewards.
Avoid communicating deadlines in a way that erodes autonomy: “You must
submit the team’s report no later than July 20.”
Instead, communicate a deadline as a valuable information that encourages
autonomy: “Our project needs to be completed by July 20, so the CFO has time
to review it prior to the Board meeting on August 15. This spreadsheet proposes
a project timeline, so each team member understands their role and can sched-
ule their contributions appropriately. I propose that Joe have data compiled by
April 1; that Sally’s analysis be completed by May 15; and that I have conclu-
sions completed by June 15. This schedule gives you between June 15 and July
20 to generate the report, so the CFO has time to present it at the Board meeting
on August 15. Do you foresee any steps I haven’t included in this proposal? Are
there challenges I haven’t considered, that might influence this timeline or your
ability to complete the report by July 20?”
Definition and Requisite Skills to Deepen Relatedness
The competency to deepen relatedness is defined as the leader’s ability to help people
to care about and feel cared about by others, to feel connected to others without con-
cerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are contributing to something greater
than themselves (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Instead of leadership models that tend to focus
on metrics without an effort to help people derive meaning, drive for results without
awareness of people’s personal concerns, or push outcomes without regard for inter-
personal relationships, this competency includes skills where leaders
1. demonstrate empathy and caring through listening, acknowledging, and
accepting expressions of negative affect;
2. offer pure and informational feedback rather than personal or evaluative
3. provide rationale, share information about yourself and the organization, and
discuss your intentions openly;
4. help individuals align work and tasks with their own developed values and
work-related purpose; and
5. frame actions in terms of the welfare of the whole and focus on contributions
to the greater good.
Deepening relatedness requires deep listening combined with acceptance that the
negative affect and sentiments expressed by an employee are potentially valid reac-
tions to a difficult or unappealing situation.
Avoid downplaying or diminishing emotions: “You shouldn’t feel that way.
Everyone has failed at one time or another. You just need to work harder next
Instead, provide an opportunity for the individual to acknowledge emotions: “It
seems you might be wrestling with this right now. If that’s true, I hope you feel
comfortable using me as a sounding board. Talking through what happened and
what you’re experiencing might enable you to make sense of it or even come to
peace with it.”
Deepening relatedness also requires a high degree of self-regulation by the leader
to stay focused on the employee’s needs for expression rather than their own—includ-
ing the leader’s need to praise someone. Praising often says more about the leader’s
need than the need of the receiver.
Avoid giving personal and evaluative feedback that erodes relatedness which
may result in momentary good feelings for the person receiving your positive
opinion, but also increases the risk of the receiver being dependent on external
positive evaluation rather than their own internal state of being: “You made me
happy when . . . ; I was so glad that you . . . ; I’m so proud of you.”
Instead, provide pure and informational feedback that deepens relatedness:
“One of your goals for this project was to break down silos within the company
and gain participation from a variety of departments. I noticed that you received
endorsements from three departments on the report you generated. How do you
feel about your effort and the outcome?”
Definition and Requisite Skills to Build Competence
The competency of building competence is defined as the leader’s ability to help peo-
ple feel effective at meeting everyday challenges and opportunities, help people dem-
onstrate skill over time, and help people appreciate their growth and learning (Deci &
10 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
Ryan, 2000). Instead of discounting training, punishing mistakes, and focusing on
results over effort, this competency includes skills where leaders
1. emphasize learning goals, not just performance goals,
2. ask, “What did you learn today?” Recognize mistakes as opportunities to learn
3. provide training and appropriate leadership style for the person’s level of
4. facilitate problem solving by asking questions to explore options and alterna-
tive strategies, and
5. establish norms for individuals requesting feedback instead of having them
wait to receive the feedback they need to learn and grow.
Building a person’s sense of competence requires the leader to understand that in the
beginning, everyone is a learner with needs for the high direction that provides structure,
guidance, and specific how-to’s. But, as an employee’s experience, competence, and
commitment develop over time, a leader must exercise flexibility to provide the appro-
priate amount of direction and support—while still encouraging growth and learning.
Avoid giving empty feedback that doesn’t build a person’s competence: “I’m
happy to see that you met your goal in time.”
Instead, highlight progress that builds their competence: “I appreciate the
update on your progress. Let’s discuss what you might have done differently in
hindsight, what you did that worked, and what you learned that will help you on
similar goals in the future.”
Micromanaging means providing too much direction to someone who has demon-
strated competence. If someone has competence, but their performance is suffering
due to lost commitment, overdirection further erodes their commitment and perfor-
mance. However, failing to provide enough direction to someone with low compe-
tence erodes their sense of competence—retarding their performance even further.
Avoid micromanaging someone who has demonstrated competence in the past:
“It appears that the beta test failed to meet the required standards. I’ve outlined
what you need to do differently. You’ve got one more try or we risk losing our
Instead, with someone who has demonstrated competence in the past, provide
an opportunity to problem solve in a way that builds competence: “Given the
results of the beta test and the demanding timelines to meet standard require-
ments, let’s explore your options for the next beta test, and discuss what you
need and how I can help you get where you need to go.”
General Questions to Support ARC
Leaders are used to asking about progress on a goal, but can support people’s ARC by
asking goal-related or general questions to stimulate a person’s experience of ARC.
For example, asking people about their daily or weekly choices reminds them they
have choices—and encourages autonomy. Asking questions to explore values in use or
meaning derived through their work helps deepen relatedness. Asking questions about
what has been learned builds competence. Regardless of the goal or situation, leaders
can ask questions on a regular basis, in almost any circumstance, to support people’s
Autonomy. Remind people that they are making choices every day.
You may feel that this task, goal, or situation was imposed on you. In the face
of strong external pressure, rules, or control, what options can you identify that
might help relieve the pressure and provide you with some sense of control over
Are you feeling pressured when you think about the task, goal, or situation?
Where is the pressure coming from? Why do you think that is?
How do you feel about the choices you made this week? What choices did you
make that you wish you had not? Why? What choices did you make that you are
glad you did? Why?
Relatedness. Heighten people’s awareness of meaning and contribution.
As you think about this goal, how does it align with your values or work-related
What happened this week that reminds you of the contribution you make to oth-
ers through your work?
What did you find meaningful in your work this week?
Competence. Remind people of their inherent joy for learning and build competence
by asking more than “What did you achieve today?”
As you think of your week, what did you learn that might help you in the future?
How might your learning from this situation be helpful to someone else?
What new skills will you develop as you pursue this goal?
Questions that facilitate people’s internal frame of ARC encourage self-regulation
by promoting mindfulness, a nonjudgmental state of awareness that enables one to
recognize options and alternatives (Brown, Creswell, & Ryan, 2015). The health ben-
efits of mindfulness are widely accepted (Langer, 1989), but neuroscience also shows
a significant correlation between mindfulness and creativity, empathy with others, and
a direct experience of ARC (e.g., Brown & Ryan, 2003).
12 Advances in Developing Human Resources 00(0)
Acting on a New Paradigm May Require Exploring Old
Supporting people’s psychological needs directly impacts how leaders approach
employee development and performance, but it is also a key strategic advantage. A
quick search of the top issues keeping executives awake at night include innovation to
stay ahead of forced disruption and competition, optimizing employee productivity,
employee engagement, virtual management, team member excellence, and workload
and life balance (e.g., Moritz, 2017; “19th Annual Global CEO Survey,” 2016). These
issues require an optimally motivated workforce. But, leaders operating on outdated
beliefs about motivation may continue to depend on outdated approaches that are inef-
fective at mobilizing that workforce.
Educating leaders on the empirical evidence and proven benefits of SDT is a good
first step. But, leaders may be reluctant to trade in their carrots and sticks if they do not
have the skills to replace them. Teaching leaders the skills necessary to encourage
autonomy, deepen relatedness, and build competence through their one-to-one leader-
ship is essential.
However, some leaders may need more than education and training to shift from
“What can I do to motivate people?” or “What can I give people to motivate them?”
to a new set of motivation competencies based on “How do I facilitate people’s sat-
isfaction of autonomy, relatedness, and competence?” Leaders may find it difficult
to accept that the way they drive for results can have a deleterious effect on getting
Perhaps the most daunting, yet rewarding role an HRD professional can undertake
is guiding leaders through an investigation of deeply embedded beliefs and pro-
grammed values such as, “It’s not personal, it’s just business,” or “The purpose of an
organization is to make a profit.” Championing new foundational motivation compe-
tencies may require helping leaders explore outdated beliefs that perpetuate ineffective
leadership practices and prevent full acceptance of a new and different approach to
developing people and generating results.
Reframing leadership competencies based on encouraging autonomy, deepening
relatedness, and building competence means helping leaders shift their focus from
what they want from people to what they want for people. Focusing on what leaders
want for people means creating a workplace environment based on foundational ARC-
supportive competencies where people produce results and sustain high performance
because they are flourishing and experiencing high-quality optimal motivation.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
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Susan Fowler is the author of six books, including the bestseller Why Motivating People
Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does and coauthor of the newly revised bestseller Self Leadership
and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard and Laurence Hawkins. She is a professor in
the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program at the University of San Diego and a
senior consulting partner for The Ken Blanchard Companies.