Organisational Leadership: Joe’s success and your own!


Joe is now ‘CEO Joe’. He did not start out like that. From a simple, hardworking IT consultant to CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, he has done well. Very well! In less than 10 years, he has chiselled out a reality bigger than he ever imagined. Surely, it wasn’t the few pats on the back and the somewhat bigger pay-check that did it all? Or did it?

My inner decoding machinery was humming. I had to know a few truths. There weren’t any dead give-aways, like an Ivy-League degree, a multi-million dollar package, or an evidently over-powering personality that could emblazon a pathway through hell.

What makes Joe

Joe is keenly interested in what he does and has been given the support and space to fashion a future for the company. He is well entrenched in the business, engaged with business partners and loves the products he builds. He has a team that shares a common vision, collaborates well and delivers. Together, they understand their markets and have the capability to execute. He also gives his team the same autonomy, sense of purpose and support that is available to him from the top. ‘I was allowed to operate as an intrapreneur, and the room to expand would appear when I needed it’, says Joe. He has also been well rewarded and recognised along the way.

If the formula for success is so plainly visible why are there so few Joe’s?

Motivation or theory?

Hundreds of motivational theories have evolved over the last 200 years. Motivators such as compensation, rewards and recognition, social interaction, job enrichment, empowerment have been in the public domain for a long time. There is plenty to choose from.

Is it that corporations do not understand these? Or have simply shied away from actually applying these? Does the approach to motivation remain a bit too impersonal and non-serious? I would think it does.

How many of us get a thank you for a job well done, a personalised Christmas gift, the freedom to choose some of the work we do? Not many… the clues are visible every day!

Motivators moved on – what inspires in the 21stcentury

The nature of jobs has also seen a change from the industrial era. Not many of us work in a coal mine any more, make railway coaches or produce steel pellets. A lot of us are knowledge workers. These may be more complex, often less structured, more creative and non-repetitive tasks, with no one single way of doing them. In such an environment, creativity, problem solving and intrinsic knowledge play a major role. Says Dan Pink, ‘the traditional carrot and stick reward system works for certain 20th century mechanistic tasks, but for many 21st century tasks, this approach does not work and often does harm.’

Teresa Amabile: Intrinsic motivators are more important than money or status

Harvard’s Teresa Amabilesays that ‘the single and most powerful progress is meaningful work.’ A central tenet of hercomponential theory is the intrinsic principle of creativity.

Some companies are beginning to experiment & introduce innovative work practices, most others are lagging behind. It does not appear that justice has been done to the expectant millions queuing-up to the workplace every day. All it takes is a better appreciation of the individual and a few directed efforts to convert the somber haze around your people to an electric buzz.

It is time for leaders to engage and empower in new ways.


© Anu Maakan 2016

(Disclaimer: all views published here are the personal views of the author and do not represent those of any organization).




Author: Anu Maakan

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this page. I'm a change specialist, business blogger and art enthusiast. I'm focussed on topics such as corporate governance, compliance & control, metrics, performance management, human capital, financial regulation, leadership. Find me on twitter @AnuGolden, Or email

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