This article discusses motivation theories in a historical perspective and underlines the paradoxical results sometimes occurring when applying motivation theories out of context. Some of the motivation theories from the past may result in demotivation and in organizational ineffectiveness harming the core of a business or the main purpose of an organization today. The increasing complexity, the global challenges and the rate of change demand new types of leading and managing, and the motivation theories underpinning performance management and incentive systems used not long ago, are now changing in order to facilitate caring and innovation. Also, the notion of, what drives motivation changes. Organizations that implement managerial concepts from the past, or do not adapt their approach fast enough risk losing their competitive edge.