Labor productivity is an important aspect of the construction industry, and motivation is believed to be an influential factor that affects it. While previous studies have emphasized the role of controlled motivation (i.e., external factors), the role of autonomous motivation (i.e., internal fac-tors) has been ignored. This knowledge gap hampers further efforts to explore new determinants that increase construction labor productivity (CLP). Accordingly, self-determination theory (SDT) is promising in terms of its ability to bridge this gap and explain how autonomous motivation can be generated by integrating reasonable leadership styles and psychological satisfaction. Therefore, this study develops a novel model for assessing the effects of engaging leadership, three basic psychological satisfaction factors (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness), and work motivation on CLP. Based on the data collection in Vietnam, we found that both autonomous motivation and controlled motivation positively and significantly contributed to CLP. In terms of promoting autonomous motivation and improving CLP, competence and relatedness satisfaction played a key role. Ultimately, these results highlighted two crucial features related to CLP improvement in addition to the conventional view: “negative legacy” and “new light of hope”. This study expands and rein-forces SDT knowledge by comprehensively illuminating leadership and psychological and motivational indicators in the construction context. It provides substantial practical recommendations for CLP improvement, such as enhancing autonomous motivation, promoting satisfaction with competence and relatedness, and reducing selfish work, which is a novel factor that negatively contributes to CLP. This factor is the first discovered in the construction domain.