Developing Leaders Issue 31: 2019 | 15 Viewpoint The psychologists Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan’s work, which led to their Self-Determination Theory, showed us that a core component of intrinsic motivation is autonomy which leads to enhanced performance, persistence and creativity. If this is unsupported in a social context however, such as work, has a detrimental impact on wellness in that setting. When we perceive that we are being told or forced by our environment or things that we ‘have to do’, the brain interprets this as a punishment and we look to resist it in our effort to defend ourselves. This response to threats to our autonomy is termed in ps=ychology as reactance. Individuals will consequently limit their engagement and the relationship to the organization will become more transactional. An example of the differences in behaviour between when we are told to do something or given the choice to do so, was demonstrated in a meta-analysis of 42 studies involving over 22,000 participants looking at the difference between ‘telling’ and ‘asking’. Simply adding the phrase ‘but you are free to accept or refuse’ doubled the likelihood of people saying yes to charitable donations and filling in voluntary surveys, because choice was extended. One of the most famous studies looking at the subject of choice and personal When individuals have a sense of agency and can function autonomously, they will be more deeply engaged