Book Review: The Progress Principle

What motivates your employees?

Authors of The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, conducted a rigorous analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries provided by hundreds of employees in multiple companies. What they found is that the best leaders can build teams of employees who have satisfying “inner work lives”. They have consistently positive emotions, strong motivation, and favorable perceptions of their organizations, their work, and their colleagues.

How do employees achieve this level of happiness? The authors found it results from creating forward momentum, and progress, in meaningful work. The book describes how leaders can help remove common barriers to progress for employees, such as meaningless tasks and toxic relationships, and emphasizes how these factors can disrupt employee’s inner work lives.

The biggest takeaway for me from this book is the concept of “progress” and how important it is in motivating our employees and ourselves. My new favorite question going forward for myself and my clients will be “What have you made progress on recently?”.

I highly recommend The Progress Principle to any small business owner or operator who aspires to become a better leader.


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