Define motivation from the perspective of one but no more than two theorists.


Motivation, a multidimensional construct, serves as a fundamental driver of human behavior and achievement . It encompasses a combination of internal and external factors that stimulate individuals to initiate, sustain, and direct their actions. This essay seeks to explore the perspectives of two renowned theorists, Abraham Maslow and the proponents of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), namely Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, in order to establish a comprehensive definition of motivation. Additionally, it will delve into personal and professional encounters related to motivation, the influence of mentors, strategies employed to motivate colleagues, and the impact of scholar-practitioner engagement on effective leadership and service.

Defining Motivation: Insights from Maslow and Self-Determination Theory

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory provides a foundational perspective on motivation. According to Maslow (1943), individuals are propelled by a hierarchical arrangement of needs, with physiological needs forming the bedrock and self-actualization needs situated at the pinnacle. He theorized that as lower-level needs are met, higher-level needs emerge as driving forces. For example, an individual’s focus shifts from satisfying safety and belongingness needs to pursuing self-esteem and self-actualization. This theory underscores the intricate interplay between deficiency needs and growth needs, collectively influencing an individual’s motivation.

On the other hand, Self-Determination Theory (SDT), developed by Deci and Ryan (2019), offers an encompassing framework for comprehending motivation. SDT posits that individuals possess innate psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. It emphasizes intrinsic motivation, where activities are engaged in for the inherent satisfaction they offer rather than for external rewards. SDT categorizes various forms of motivation along a continuum, ranging from amotivation (absence of motivation) to intrinsic motivation. The theory underscores the importance of nurturing intrinsic motivation by addressing these psychological needs.

Personal and Professional Experiences with Motivation

In my personal life, motivation has played a pivotal role across various endeavors. Pursuing higher education was propelled by intrinsic motivation driven by the joy of learning and personal growth. As I achieved academic milestones, my motivation transitioned from fulfilling basic requirements to embracing intellectual curiosity. In my professional life, I confronted the challenge of motivating a team during a critical project. This experience emphasized the intricacies of aligning individual motivations with team objectives. It was evident that catering to both extrinsic factors, such as rewards and recognition, and intrinsic factors, including autonomy and skill development, were crucial in sustaining motivation.

Influence of Mentors on Motivational Philosophy

Mentors wield substantial influence in shaping an individual’s perspective on motivation. During my academic journey, a professor embodied the principles of SDT. Their approach championed autonomous learning, constructive feedback, and an environment fostering intrinsic motivation. This mentor’s influence significantly shaped my outlook on motivating others by nurturing autonomy and competence. In my professional life, a senior colleague demonstrated the practical application of Maslow’s theory by catering to the diverse needs of team members, creating a supportive work atmosphere conducive to personal and collective growth.

Utilizing Motivational Strategies in Professional Practice

In my capacity as a manager, I draw inspiration from both Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and SDT to motivate my staff effectively. To address physiological and safety needs, I prioritize fair compensation, job security, and a safe workspace. Attending to social needs, I cultivate a collaborative environment promoting teamwork and camaraderie. Recognizing intrinsic motivation’s significance, I establish opportunities for skill development, involve team members in decision-making, and provide consistent feedback. By aligning team goals with individual aspirations, I endeavor to foster an environment that nurtures both personal and professional growth.

Scholar-Practitioner Impact on Serving and Leading

The concept of scholar-practitioner engagement emphasizes the integration of academic knowledge with practical application. As I continue to engage in scholarly research and remain informed about contemporary theories, my ability to make informed decisions in real-world scenarios is enhanced (Ryan & Deci, 2020). This ongoing engagement equips me to critically assess motivational strategies and select the most suitable ones based on contextual considerations and the individuals involved. Furthermore, it positions me as a valuable resource for my team, enabling me to share evidence-based insights and collaborate on solutions that nurture motivation and growth.

Scholar-practitioner engagement offers a promising way forward in leadership and service contexts. By applying scholarly insights to practical scenarios, leaders can refine their approaches to motivation and create environments conducive to intrinsic motivation. This engagement empowers leaders to tailor their strategies to individual and team needs, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and development (Ryan & Deci, 2020). Consequently, the integration of scholarship into practice becomes a dynamic catalyst for effective leadership and impactful service, shaping a positive motivational climate within organizations.


In conclusion, motivation, as elucidated by theorists like Abraham Maslow and proponents of Self-Determination Theory, stands as a multifaceted phenomenon influencing human behavior across personal and professional contexts. Personal experiences and mentorship interactions have significantly contributed to shaping my motivational philosophy, emphasizing the importance of intrinsic motivation and the fulfillment of psychological needs. By applying strategies informed by these theories, I endeavor to foster an environment that motivates my team, aligning their aspirations with organizational goals. The scholar-practitioner approach further enriches my ability to lead and serve, amalgamating academic knowledge with practical expertise. As I navigate the intricate landscape of motivation, my commitment remains unwavering in nurturing an environment where individuals find impetus not just in external rewards, but also in the realization of their intrinsic psychological needs.


Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2019). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York, NY: Plenum.

Maslow, A. H. (2018). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.