Revealing Secrets of Motivation: Discover What Motivates Our Actions

The Driving Force, Wired to Want, Cracking the Code and Revealing the Secrets of Motivation and Desires.  Discover what motivates our actions and how those influence workplace behaviors.

There are three constructs worth examining and evaluating regarding basic needs, desires, and motivation.

These include Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Edmondson’s Psychological Safety, and Reiss’s Motivation Profile.

These desires help us understand what motivates human beings intrinsically and extrinsically in and outside the workplace.

Maslow details five basic human needs, with self-actualization as the highest level.

Reiss details the 16 basic desires that drive human behavior: universal, hard-wired, and shape motivation.

Edmondson describes critical factors that fearless organizations and high-performing teams need to flourish. These include safety, inclusion, diversity, belonging, collaboration, respect, acknowledgment, and learning cultures built on curiosity, experimentation, and discovery.

What Are The Five Basic Needs?

1. Physiological Needs:

These are the most basic biological needs that all humans require to survive. These needs include oxygen, food, water, shelter, clothing, sex, and sleep. Failure to meet these basic needs can cause people to languish, develop illness, or die. These needs are essential before any other conditions can be prioritized and actualized.

How Does Physiological Need Correlate to Psychological Safety?

Safety, security, and trust are precursors for people to explore, take risks, experiment, and innovate. Without it, they feel unsafe, insecure, and mistrusting in their environment and become unproductive, unimaginative, and suffer personally and professionally.  

How Does this Correlate to Reiss’s Motivation Profile? 

Eating: the desire for food and drink.

Physical Activity: the desire for physical exertion and challenge.

2. Safety: 

Refers to the need for security and stability. This includes physical safety from danger, harm, injury, security, law, order, emotional health, and stability.

How Does Safety Correlate to Psychological Safety?

Psychological safe teams collaborate, coordinate, communicate, and innovate. With safety, excellence, ingenuity, teamwork, growth, and productivity, thrive. It makes team members feel secure towards risk-taking, failing forward, learning, and exploring new ideas without fear of being humiliated and criticized.

How Does this Correlate to Reiss’s Motivation Profile?

Idealism: the desire to pursue justice, wisdom, and the greater good.

Order: the desire for structure, stability, and predictability.

Saving: the desire to collect and save objects or experiences.

Tranquility: the desire for calmness and emotional stability.

Vengeance: the desire to get even and seek revenge against those who have wronged us.

3. Love or Belonging:

Refers to the need for being part of a “tribe.” Humans have a deep-seated evolutionary need to belong, to feel included, valued, heard, and acknowledged. This includes the need for companionship, friendship, acceptance, belonging, and inclusivity.

How Does Love or Belonging Correlate to Psychological Safety?

Strong bonds, belonging, and inclusivity are essential for team members to work together effectively. This fosters being open and honest with each other. 

How Does this Correlate to Reiss’s Motivation Profile?

Acceptance: the desire for approval and positive self-regard from others.

Social Status: the desire for recognition, respect, and prestige.

Social Contact: the desire for companionship and social interaction.  

Honor: the desire for inner integrity and respect from others.

Family: the desire to care for one’s children and raise a family.

Romance: the desire for sexual and emotional intimacy with another person.

4. Esteem:

Refers to the need for respect, praise, acceptance, confidence, and appreciation. This includes the need for healthy self-esteem, mutual respect, status, and recognition from others.

How Does Esteem Correlate to Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety allows team members to feel respected, acknowledged, appreciated, and valued for their contributions. It encourages them to take the initiative, risks and share their ideas without fear of criticism or judgment.

How Does this Correlate to Reiss’s Motivation Profile?

Power: the desire for control and influence over others.

5. Self-Actualization:

Refers to the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It refers to the need for a sense of purpose, personal growth, development, learning, and fulfillment. 

How Does Self-Actualization Correlate to Psychological Safety?

Learning cultures are built on fearless experimentation, self-discovery, learning from trial and error, and admitting being wrong and fallible. This allows team members to explore their full potential without fear of failure, humiliation, or criticism. 

How Does this Correlate to Reiss’s Motivation Profile?

Independence: the desire for self-reliance and self-determination.

Curiosity: the desire to explore and discover new things.


Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,  Edmondson’s Psychological Safety, and Reiss’s Motivation Profile constructs is essential for organizations and teams because it helps them know how their employees are orientated and motivated. The goal is prioritizing safety, belonging, inclusivity, and esteem to reach self-actualization. These theories can catalyze and inspire a fearless organization and culture that encourages risk-taking, fearless experimentation, perspective-taking,  creativity, innovation, accountability, and collaboration.

Recent Posts:

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Recommended Resources:

The Science of Motivation 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 

The New Psychology of Belonging 

Meet Jodie, your Culture & Transformation Captain. With over twenty years helping people change, facilitating team discussions, building cultures, designing, implementing and teaching classes, your organization is in good hands.