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Carrot and stick?

I recently had the pleasure of working with a group of people who wanted to explore their leadership styles and effectiveness. They came from a wide variety of backgrounds and ranged from board to senior manager level, some in fast-moving demanding operational roles.

It was very interesting to see them grow, both as individuals and as a team during the time I was with them. Key to this was the ability to shed preconceptions and communicate openly and honestly with each other. There was a realisation of the importance of “winning hearts and minds”, even after a few days. This contrasted with many stories of “carrot and stick” within the group – reflections of how they had seen businesses operating in reality.

I see that the news has once again turned to the comparison of productivity across Europe – can we really be taking five days to complete work which the French can do in four? One interviewee suggested that if management were to make people feel valued, worthwhile and trusted, perhaps they might be more productive. Has austerity and the relentless pursuit of cost reduction perhaps focussed our attention away from the need to engage people in a common purpose?

What do you think? Has the recession made us use the “stick” more and forget about the “carrot”? Could we achieve more by re-engaging with groups of workers, or is this just the way the world is now, the new norm?

I welcome your views.

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