The Good of the Company

No one gives a rat's rear end about your company. They care about their own interests. (Excerpt from Unite The Tribes: Leadership Skills for Technology Managers)

A common mistake made by leaders both well educated and highly capable is operating on the assumption that people are willing to work for the good of the whole. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's true that we often come together in a shared effort for a common goal. However, what you're seeing isn't a collection of idealistic people working for the benefit of a corporation. They're doing it because it serves their personal interests.

In order to become an effective leader, the single most important concept to grasp is the fact that nobody gives a rat's rear end about your company. This is true, without exception, from the minimum wage employees to the highest paid executives. Each and every person in your organization is driven completely by self interest. If they further the goals of the enterprise in the process, that's just a bonus.

Does this mean that everyone is completely apathetic to the fortunes of your financials? Of course not. However, their motive isn't some abstract love for the good of your organization. It's driven by what success for the business means to them personally, based on their own desires.

If you try to motivate your workforce to adopt an altruistic attitude of hard work and sacrifice by any other means than highlighting what's in it for the individual when they succeed, you'll be in good company. The world is full of shallow, meaningless mission statements and executives who naively expect people to embrace them as if they were religious dogma. Of course, if you went out of business tomorrow, you'd also be in good company. You might even meet a few of your contemporaries in the unemployment line.

Wishful thinking is not a platform for success. You have to see the world as it truly is if you're to be effective in your efforts. Since people are the power under the hood of each and every company in business today, understanding human nature, or at least human motivation, is an excellent place to start.

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