Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Carrot and the Stick

If you're in a leadership position, you have two styles of management to choose from — the carrot and the stick.  The challenge is to find the right balance to lead your family, your team and/or your employees.

One of my first experiences with the carrot and the stick was a summer job in Canada.  All first-year tennis coaches doubled as mentors for young campers.  We shared a cabin together.  Camp Manitou-wabing attracted campers from all over North America.  It was like visiting Disneyland.  Many of the kids thought otherwise.  They felt their parents were "dumping" them.  Some came from homes where the maids did all the cleaning.  What a culture shock it was to ask them to clean up their own cabin.  One of the kids in my cabin pulled out a wad of bills and attempted to bribe me to make his bed and do his chores.  The one thing these young campers wanted most was to get out of camp.  There was only one way — to win the cabin clean-up award.  Winners enjoyed a night at the movies away from camp.

The first week I huddled with my new kids.  We came up with a plan to divide up the chores.  One person was in charge of getting everyone out of bed.  Another was appointed supervisor.  I was not the supervisor.  I was not allowed to leave for breakfast until my area was inspected and approved by the supervisor.  Our cabin was located the furthest away from the mess hall.  Once I was cleared for dismissal, I strolled through the camp to get an early breakfast.  I could hear yelling and screaming from the other cabins.  I ate my breakfast in peace.  One by one, my kids joined me as soon as the supervisor released them.  At the end of the first week we got a perfect score and enjoyed watching Indiana Jones.  The other counselors told me I was lucky to get such a great group of kids.

It didn't matter who was in my cabin.  I watched Indian Jones all summer long, each week with a new set of campers.  Here are some lessons I learned about the carrot and the stick:
  1. The carrot and the stick are both powerful motivators.
  2. When everyone understands what his job or role is and they understand the rewards and the consequences of their actions, the work gets done.
  3. Great leaders know when to use the carrot and when to use the stick.
  4. If you aren't getting the results you're seeking with your group, take a look at how many times you're using the carrot vs. the stick and change the ratios.
  5. Be consistent.  No follow-through with your carrots and your sticks leads to poor morale.
How do you manage to get results through others?  Do you prefer the carrot or the stick?  Please add your ideas in the comments section below.

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