Personal success and fulfillment – in any field or endeavor – come from helping others in ways that are mutually beneficial. Alexis de Tocqueville called this acting out of an “enlightened regard for [oneself],” which “constantly prompts [people] to assist one another.” This principle of being contribution motivated has been vital to Koch’s success.
From Abraham Maslow it has become generally accepted that most individuals must first satisfy their basic physical needs and then their communal needs, as well as achieve a sense of self-worth. Individuals for whom any of these needs are seriously unfulfilled tend to be driven by them, which he called being deficiency motivated. In this state, people often act in unhelpful or even counterproductive ways, such as being defensive, resisting feedback, hoarding knowledge, undermining colleagues and complaining without offering solutions.
Being contribution motivated enables people to discover, develop and utilize their abilities to succeed by helping others. They are energized by continuously trying to improve, innovate, transform and creatively get results – which enables them to live lives of meaning. The more people contribute, the better they feel about themselves and the more they tend to be rewarded, so the more they want to contribute.
As difficult as it is for individuals to contribute when deficiency motivated, it is almost impossible when negatively or destructively motivated. They can be driven by tribalism; narcissism; the will to power; jealousy; a lack of integrity, humility, or respect for others; or the desire for vengeance for real or imaginary injustices. Organizations with a culture of negative motivation typically have no purpose other than advancing their own power or profiting by any means.
This is why we prioritize a contribution-motivated culture – one based on Our Values. It involves hiring and retaining people who are first and foremost contribution motivated, and reinforcing that motivation through individualized roles and responsibilities, coaching, development and rewards.