I recently heard about a book where it was asserted that within an organization, the opposite of entitlement is fear. In a nutshell, entitlement causes low productivity (true), and on the other end of the spectrum, fear also causes low productivity (also true). Then it was stated that the middle ground is the best place.
The middle ground is what I suppose we would call a healthy fear. I’m sure what was meant here is a situation where accountability is present and people are well aware of the consequences should they not be as productive as desired.
I hope I’ve described it well so far. Because I have to say, there is a missing link here that we dare not overlook. First, it seems to me that the goal is to achieve optimal productivity (in whatever organization you are in). And then, the deeper goal is to find the proper motivator.
Now, whereas it is true that an amount of fear breeds productivity, is that the best long term motivator? Fear breeds productivity, but for how long in a free market where one can go find work elsewhere? Fear breeds productivity, but is it the only thing that does so?
I say no. In my experience, there is a better motivator, vision. Consider which option would cause you to give your best. A dictator who makes it perfectly clear how many widgets you are to produce or you’ll need to find employment elsewhere; or a leader who paints a clear vision of where the organization is going and what your contribution is to that goal?
To me, it’s not even close. The Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Pr 29:18) Funny, the context of that verse is a passage on discipline, exactly what we’re talking about.
So don’t mistake me, I am for healthy accountability. The Bible also says, “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thess 3:10) Discipline, what is loosely referred to above as fear, without vision does indeed, sound like fear.
Are you a leader where you are? Provide accountability AND cast a vision. And if fear is a more powerful motivator than the vision you are casting, perhaps it’s time to question the vision.
Well, this had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the products we sell at Wilson Lumber, but it was on my heart today. I’ll give it to you free of charge:) If we can help in any way give us a call (256-852-7411) or see us on the web.