100 books like Human Motivation

By David C. McClelland,

Here are 100 books that Human Motivation fans have personally recommended if you like Human Motivation. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Working With Emotional Intelligence

John Beeson Author Of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level

From my list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent many years as a management consultant to a range of big, global corporations, smaller companies, and not-for-profits. I also headed up succession planning and management development at two major companies. I decided to go into this field based on a strong conviction, a conviction that continues today: that leadership counts. Strong leaders benefit people in their organizations and, ultimately, society itself. Having worked with many senior leaders and led organizations myself, I know the range of pressures executives face and how easy it is to fail. Companies need a supply of capable, well-equipped senior leaders, and those who aspire to top-level positions need guideposts about achieving their career aspirations. 

John's book list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level

John Beeson Why did John love this book?

This book has more than stood the test of time.

Goleman played a key role in popularizing the notion of emotional intelligence. It’s a key skill for any executive but one I find is often misunderstood. Goleman makes a strong case that one’s emotional intelligence is rooted firmly in self-control and self-mastery. That is, you can’t really tune into others in a deep way unless you are in control of yourself and your emotions. I use this book often in my coaching, and it’s a revelation to many senior leaders and aspiring executives. 

By Daniel Goleman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Working With Emotional Intelligence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you want to be more successful at work? Do you want to improve your chances of promotion? Do you want to get on better with your colleagues? Daniel Goleman draws on unparalleled access to business leaders around the world and the thorough research that is his trademark. He demonstrates that emotional intelligence at work matters twice as much as cognitive abilities such as IQ or technical expertise in this inspiring sequel.


Book cover of The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Of all of the competencies that repeatedly predict effective leadership and creating and maintaining of key relationships, is empathy. At the heart of any relationship and perhaps the only antidote to rampant narcissism in our society is empathy. As a prominent psychiatrist and scholar, Helen chronicles decades of research and explains the neural mechanisms that enable us to relate to others, build better relationships ad even inspire others. Her personal stories and those of patients and colleagues make the research come alive with compassion and meaning.

By Helen Riess, Liz Neporent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Empathy Effect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"We are all connected on a neurobiological level far more than we have previously realized. Consciously or not, we are in constant, natural resonance with one another's feelings. When we are engaged in shared mind awareness, the possibilities for mutual aid and collaborative problem solving abound."
-Helen Riess, MD

A Revolutionary Guide for Understanding and Changing the Way We Connect

Empathy is undergoing a new evolution. In a global and interconnected culture, we can no longer afford to identify only with people who seem to be a part of our "tribe." As Dr. Helen Riess has learned, our capacity for…


Book cover of Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Like most countries of the world, the US is built on waves and steady immigration. As one of the few countries where upward mobility is possible, and economic prosperity abounds, we have been a magnet for immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their children. Professor Morton extends the challenges of marginality, social class, as well as ethnic and racial and gender prejudice to the experience of modern day immigrants. Her stories and research reflect the experience any of us have had as immigrants or children of them. She also explains how the cultural and identity changes needed to go beyond surviving to thriving often involve letting go of previous parts of ourselves and identities.

By Jennifer Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Up without Losing Your Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ethical and emotional tolls paid by disadvantaged college students seeking upward mobility and what educators can do to help these students flourish

Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your…


Book cover of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Charles Postel Author Of Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1896

From my list on the struggle for equality in the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

These days I am a history professor and prize-winning author. But before I started my education at my local community college, I dropped out of high school to work odd jobs on farms and in factories, and spent two decades pondering the hows and whys of the gaping inequalities in our society. My books are part of that ongoing quest. They have won a number of awards, including the Bancroft Prize and the Frederick Jackson Turner Award.

Charles' book list on the struggle for equality in the USA

Charles Postel Why did Charles love this book?

Martin or Malcolm? Civil Rights or Black Power? Integration or Separation? In this book, equal parts wise and smart, Joseph shows the limits of such questions. With their different styles and ways, both Martin and Malcolm fought for the common cause of equality and full citizenship. This book gets to the heart of why this cause was the defining struggle for equality of the post-World War Two decades.

By Peniel E. Joseph, Peniel E. Joseph,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sword and the Shield as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are the two most iconic figures of the Civil Rights movement. To most Americans, Malcolm and Martin represent contrasting political ideals -- self-defense vs. non-violence, anger vs. pacifism, separatism vs. integration, the sword vs. the shield. The Civil Rights movement itself has suffered the same fate: while non-violent direct action is remembered today as an unalloyed good and an unassailable part of our democracy, the movement's combative militancy has been either vilified or erased outright. In The Sword and the Shield, acclaimed historian Peniel Joseph offers a dual biography of Malcolm and Martin…


Book cover of Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

Joanna Faber and Julie King Author Of How to Talk When Kids Won't Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood

From my list on to create strong connections in their families.

Why are we passionate about this?

Joanna Faber is the daughter of Adele Faber, a pioneer of the internationally acclaimed best-selling How To Talk series that has helped millions of parents worldwide. Joanna joined forces with her childhood friend Julie King to provide support for parents and educators of the 21st century. Each draws on her own experiences – Joanna as a bilingual teacher in West Harlem, Julie as a specialist in helping parents of children on the autism spectrum – to lead workshops and speak to parent groups, teachers, doctors, and librarians worldwide, including online sessions to support parents during Covid lockdowns and afterwards. Together, Joanna and Julie have written two best-selling How To Talk books

Joanna and Julie's book list on to create strong connections in their families

Joanna Faber and Julie King Why did Joanna and Julie love this book?

Alfie Kohn offers an eye-opening perspective on the perils of punishment and rewards.

If you've ever questioned the wisdom of using gold star charts and m&m motivators for children, this groundbreaking book is for you. Here is the science behind why extrinsic rewards can extinguish intrinsic motivation, and what to do instead. I found it both an enlightening and entertaining read. It may profoundly change your approach to parenting.

By Alfie Kohn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Punished By Rewards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1993, this groundbreaking book has convinced countless parents, teachers, and managers that working with people is more successful than doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Moreover, the use of rewards actually undermines the quality of people's work or learning - and causes them to lose interest in whatever they've been bribed to do. Seasoned with humour and familiar examples - and updated to include a wealth of recent research, Punished by Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.


Book cover of Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

Mona Brookes Author Of Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too

From my list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong artist and drawing enthusiast, I am passionate about the world of drawing and its potential to inspire creativity and self-expression. I never planned to be an art teacher. Surprisingly, a part-time job as a school bus driver led me to develop Monart®, which has become highly successful in schools around the world. My experience enabled me to present at state art educator conferences without having any formal training. I have had the privilege of inspiring and empowering students of all ages and backgrounds. At 85, nothing makes me happier than when a former student tells me their passion for drawing has led to a successful career.

Mona's book list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning

Mona Brookes Why did Mona love this book?

As a new art teacher, I started to doubt the usefulness of the endless praise given by other art teachers.

The repetitive use of "good job" lost its meaning and encouraged students to crave more praise. I believed that art had no right or wrong way of execution, and that even professional critics had varying opinions on what constituted good or bad art.

As a result, I avoided praising work based solely on my personal preferences.

Alfie Kohn's book on praise was a great relief for me as it solved my concerns about endless praise in the classroom. Now, I explain to students that advice does not require praise.

This approach fosters creativity and experimentation, without the unrealistic expectation of having students feel the need to like everything they draw.

By Alfie Kohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Punished by Rewards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an…


Book cover of You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, and Your Why

Jonathan Conyers Author Of I Wasn't Supposed to Be Here: Finding My Voice, Finding My People, Finding My Way

From my list on helping to shape your view of the world and yourself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always had a passion for reading deep personal stories that provide me with a better understanding of the world and equip me with the tools and life lessons I need to continue growing as a person. I believe that storytelling's vulnerability is one of the most powerful instruments for self-reflection, self-healing, and ultimately, for us to evolve into better versions of ourselves through introspection.

Jonathan's book list on helping to shape your view of the world and yourself

Jonathan Conyers Why did Jonathan love this book?

ET is a formidable force, and this book unequivocally proves it.

It underscores the importance of taking control of your life and embarking on the journey to become the best version of yourself – something we all aspire to. ET breaks down this journey and shares the secrets to waking up, taking action, and uncovering your "why."

I highly recommend this book to anyone in search of motivation and a roadmap for achieving their full potential. It serves as a vital first step that we all must take, which in return will lead us to build a support network of village members on our path towards greatness.

By Eric Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Owe You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “You Owe You is full of insight and guidance for those seeking their inner selves.”—MICHAEL B. JORDAN
 
No matter your story or your struggle, Eric Thomas—celebrated motivational guru, educator, and problem-solver to many of the top athletes and business leaders—will “help you work harder, discover your real motivation, and crack the code of enduring success” (Ed Mylett, #1 bestselling author of The Power of One More)

If you feel like success is for others, that only certain people get to have their dreams fulfilled, Eric Thomas’s You Owe You is your wake-up call. His urgent…


Book cover of Emily's Quills

J. L. Hunt Author Of Beautiful Boy

From my list on motivational stories for young children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a household with a large family, I recall times when it was difficult to find my voice, having to compete with multiple family members to be heard. Over the years, I developed a special compassion for children who may feel overlooked, or unseen, which also prompted my decision to become a children’s book author, catering to write empowering stories. So, I am especially passionate about this list of children’s stories that also helps to shape the trajectory of every child, by instilling in them early on their true value & infinite capabilities

J. L.'s book list on motivational stories for young children

J. L. Hunt Why did J. L. love this book?

This book was a very inspiring read. I adored the connections of friendship and teamwork, also the encouragement to step up and step out when necessary to be brave. 

I loved the fact that it encourages you to discover your own true uniqueness, to go beyond your comfort zone, and to embrace the skin you're in.

By Tamiko Pettee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emily's Quills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspire your children to find their strength and grow their self-confidence!

While playing with her friends one day, Emily Hedgehog realizes that all of the other animals have such amazing talents. She feels like all she has is her prickly quills which are always getting in the way and hurting her friends.

When all of the animals find their friend Squirrel in a dangerous situation, they work together and use their strengths to save her, including Emily who quickly gains self-esteem when she discovers that her quills are actually her strength instead of her weakness.

Filled with vibrant illustrations and…


Book cover of Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation

Ian D. Brooks Author Of Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story

From my list on personal development books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for helping people realize being better through sharing my thoughts and experiences to guide them on their path. My curiosity of understanding “why people do what they do?” started when I was 13. The search for this questions evolving answer led me on an educational, career, and personal journey that authored a unique perspective to move people forward. Working with people for over 25 years through clinical therapy, personal coaching, and now through my company Rhodes Smith Consulting, I see patterns in the struggle to transform. Books offer me new perspectives or reinforce old ones in expanding my knowledge and helping people master their own intentions. Enjoy!

Ian's book list on personal development books

Ian D. Brooks Why did Ian love this book?

Understanding ourselves starts with understanding our motivations and shifting our thoughts toward internal empowerment. Why We Do What We Do offers an exploration into acting with autonomy and understanding how to manage ourselves consciously. Our internal empowerment is achieved through reframing success where the focus is placed on creating space for outcomes, balancing motivation through experience, and managing the pressures of the external environment. I am a firm believer that you can build a plan, but your path is your path. Allowance for the personal freedom to explore your path given autonomy and competence is core to motivation. This book elicits a perspective toward making changes in a way that’s true to your choices and managing the noise that surrounds you. 

By Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why We Do What We Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What motivates us as students, employees, and individuals?

If you reward your children for doing their homework, they will usually respond by getting it done. But is this the most effective method of motivation? No, says psychologist Edward L. Deci, who challenges traditional thinking and shows that this method actually works against performance. The best way to motivate people-at school, at work, or at home-is to support their sense of autonomy. Explaining the reasons why a task is important and then allowing as much personal freedom as possible in carrying out the task will stimulate interest and commitment, and is…


Book cover of Incentivology: The Forces That Explain Tremendous Success and Spectacular Failure

Dennis Gentilin Author Of The Origins of Ethical Failures: Lessons for Leaders

From my list on business ethics students and practitioners.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in business ethics was forged in the fire of personal experience. In 2004, shortly after commencing my career in the banking and finance industry, I was publicly named as one of the “whistleblowers” in a trading scandal that rocked one of Australia’s largest financial institutions. The fallout was everything you’d expect from a major governance failure: the resignation of the Chair and CEO, large financial losses, significant reputational damage, and criminal charges for the traders involved. The experience caused me to ask, “Why?” Specifically, why do ethical failures happen? And why will they continue to happen? In the years since, I have spent considerable time reflecting deeply on these questions.

Dennis' book list on business ethics students and practitioners

Dennis Gentilin Why did Dennis love this book?

The majority of (if not all) ethical failures in the business world are caused by suboptimal (and at times completely flawed) incentives. If one wants to be a serious business ethics practitioner, then a basic understanding of incentives is a must – they matter. In this book, Jason Murphy provides a whirlwind tour of how incentives operate to drive both positive and perverse outcomes across a range of settings. The book is packed full of stories to illustrate the power of incentives and I think Murphy is onto something with the title – Incentivology should be a compulsory course in any undergraduate business or public policy course. And for Australian-based students and practitioners an extra bonus – Murphy is a local author.

By Jason Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incentivology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rewards. Punishments. Prices. The Nobel Prize. Candy Crush. Incentives take more forms than you might expect and they can be hard to spot, but they shape our lives in ways that we rarely examine.

Some incentives are obvious, like for example, publicly committing to doing something you dislike in order to motivate you to do something difficult, like lose weight. But, many of the most powerful incentives are accidental, and invisible even to those who designed them. Some are tame - and some are most definitely not. Whether it's bounties for criminals or Instagrammable meals, training your dog or saving…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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