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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery

Are Your Employees Good or Evil?

Yes, this is somewhat of a trick question, but your answer truly is the very foundation of your leadership philosophy and financial results. Douglas McGregor laid this out beautifully with his writings on Theory X and Theory Y. 

The Theory X leadership approach treats employees as evil minions and relies on "the carrot and the stick" type of reward structure. It assumes that employees:

  • Don't really want to work

  • Lack ambition

  • Only work to collect a paycheck

  • Need constant supervision to perform well

The Theory Y leadership approach treats employees as good partners and relies on the "enlightened self interest" type of reward structure. It assumes that employees: 

  • Want to work to be part of something bigger than themselves

  • Desire a challenge and want to take more responsibility over time

  • Need strong leadership but much less management to perform well

If you're hiring the right people, you can use the Theory Y approach to spend your time on strategic leading instead of day-to-day managing, and you'll achieve much better financial results.

Leaders who favor the Theory X approach are more likely to hire weaker employees that they can more easily control, and they will spend much of their time solving the many day-to-day management problems that ensue. It's exhausting work, and needless to say, financial results will suffer. 

So, do you think your employees are good or evil? It makes all the difference. 

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