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The Whip or the Carrot? Which works best?

The answer, for leaders of teams, is both.

If you know your people you will know when to use each approach. The question is, do you really know your people? Why does it matter?

You may know who the most efficient worker is; who seems diligent and maybe who goes the extra mile. However, do you know your team members’ innate skills? The way they think; process thought; their values and how they see themselves in the world.

I already hear you saying “com’on I just need them to do to job they are paid for”.

Here’s the challenge. Is it easier to use that whip or to guide your people to work at the level you want? People turning up to work each day as their best self takes less energy than having to drive people and crack the whip….

Is this really possible or just idealist mumbo jumbo?

Imagine being in an organisation were everyone brought their initiative, problem solving capabilities and passion to work every day. What would your job as a leader be? Would it be different to what it currently is?

I've observed leaders when they truly understand their own strengths and use them daily. During this process they start to understand others’ strengths. This changes relationships and productivity.

I worked with one young guy who was leading a more mature workmate. When I initially asked him about this other person he told me; “he sets me up for a fall all the time. He is grumpy and doesn’t ever do what I ask him to do”.

Over time the young guy started asking more questions of the older guy, even when he already knew the answer. It took about a month but the relationship evolved into a partnership. The young guy was still the boss and the older guy mentored him. Work was more enjoyable, problems seemed less draining.

The change started from the leader really knowing his strengths through CliftonStrengths and starting to play to them on a regular basis. Understanding that he couldn’t be everything to everybody and understanding the strengths of his team and playing to them. Something so simple led to a better working environment for both, happier people and more productivity. Simple.

For more information on how they did it, click here.

Research tells us participants are:

  • 6 x more likely to be engaged in their jobs

  • More productive both individually and in teams


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