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Leaders: Put Away Your Carrots and Sticks

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Hey, remember as a kid when your parents wanted you to BEHAVE and BE GOOD they would let you stay up late to play some fun games or, if you did not comply you would end up in your room before the sky darkened to night (where you would get under the bed or in the closet to play some fun games!).

Did you opt in for the carrot (and thus become a pleaser) or the stick (and end up as a rebel)?

Okay, now think about how you are at work. Do the carrots of a year-end bonus make you salivate? Are you still in the BEHAVE and BE GOOD pattern?

What happens if you are told your work needs to improve and you are put on a performance improvement plan? Do you run to find a lawyer who will be your ally in a suit against your boss?

Check out the newest research in neuroscience and take the time to re-think how you respond to the age old model of reward and punishment. It will help you understand a better way to lead your team or company when it comes to motivation and workplace creativity.

Dan Pink’s book on motivation “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” is a great place to start. Then read my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” so you can really understand how patterns from the past play into how we view the rewards and punishments of today.

Why do we cling to patterns from the past even when we know that they really do not work?

Here are ideas that will help you form better ways to win at work.

Think intrinsic motivation. Think engagement rather than compliance.

You want to give your employees the ability to make their own decisions, practice getting better at what they love to do, and always know their work is in service of something larger than themselves.

The companies that do this rather than sweeten the carrots or sharpen the sticks are the great places to work for the 21st Century.

More on this tomorrow. Just know that it is time to break the patterns of behavior from generations ago that thought carrots and sticks would work.

They don’t.

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