I’m reading Daniel Pink’s book ‘Drive’. One snippet that struck a chord for me was the story of a business leader who is quoted as telling prospective employees:

If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you.

Organisations (of any kind) need smart people who don’t need very much direction. Give them a task, and then get out of their way. They may not do the job in the way that the leader or manager would, but they will hopefully bring all their particular skills and experience to the work they do.

These smart people need smart leaders: leaders who hire creative, self-directed workers who enjoy what they do (and would probably do it whether they got paid or not). Micro-managing such valuable, intrinsically-motivated employees would kill their creativity stone dead. Hard for controlling managers to let go of the reins, but the strategy might result in highly innovative solutions.

If engagement levels and organisational commitment are to be high, work that really matters is key. As one executive in AT&T in the 1960s said when meaningful work was thin on the ground (Ford, 1969):

… we have lost too many people who are still with us.


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