… People can be pushed, but the minute you stop, they stop. If the habit you’ve taught is to achieve in order to avoid getting chewed out, once the chewing out stops, so does the achievement.
A second way to manage people is to create competition. Pit people against one another and many of them will respond… Want to see little league players raise their game? Just let them know the playoffs are in two weeks and they’re one game out of contention.
Again, there’s human nature at work here, and this can work in the short run. The problem, of course, is that in every competition most competitors lose. Some people use that losing to try harder next time, but others merely give up. Worse, it’s hard to create the cooperative environment that fosters creativity when everyone in the room knows that someone else is out to defeat them.
Both the first message (the bully with the heart of gold) and the second (creating scarce prizes) are based on a factory model, one of scarcity. It’s my factory, … I’m going to manipulate whatever I need to do to get the results I need. If there’s only room for one winner, it seems these approaches make sense.
The third method, the one that I prefer, is to open the door… Set expectations, not to manipulate but to encourage. And then get out of the way, helping when asked but not yelling from the back of the bus.
When people learn to embrace achievement, they get hooked on it. Take a look at the incredible achievements the alumni of some organizations achieve after they move on. When adults (and kids) see the power of self-direction and realize the benefits of mutual support, they tend to seek it out over and over again.
In a non-factory mindset, one where many people have the opportunity… there are always achievers eager to take the opportunity. (Many people) can’t manage themselves well enough to excel (this way), certainly not immediately. But those that can (or those that can learn to)… turn into a… new generation of leaders.
And it lasts a lifetime.
Godin’s thoughts encapsulate how providing opportunity is helping Scouts. Scouts can do as much or as little as they like. If we compel them to a certain point they’ll likely stop whenever we stop pushing. If we make Scouting a contest for recognition we will create few winners and many losers. If, instead, we take Scouting for what it is – an opportunity for achievement and growth – we will give our Scouts s
omething they will treasure for a lifetime.
Seth Godin’s original blog entry.