Trying to motivate through shame is just a form of corporate bullying.

The leadership myth is debunked:  people are NOT motivated through being shamed. This is the continuing series of the “rules of leadership have changed.”  images

I worked in an organization once where the VP I worked for had what he called, “the wall of shame.” Every time someone made a notable mistake, he would post the person’s picture on the wall with the description of the transgression. I should pause and tell you that this man had a wicked sense of humor – emphasis on wicked. He was a great businessman and took pride in treating people as though they owed him.  And what did he motivate through his behavior:  honesty?  full disclosure? unified effort toward common goal?  Hardly.

Another leader I worked with was the polar opposite.  When there was a loss (or a win), she conducted a “learn review.”   The review focused on what worked, what didn’t work so well, how did people perform, how did we respond to market changes?  It was not an atmosphere of blame or fault-finding. Her team grew in proficiency with every opportunity.  People who didn’t improve were helped to find positions that better complimented their skills and preferences.  Her wall was filled with acknowledgements and accolades and she led the team that everyone wanted to be on.

So the rule of “blame and shame” is no more.  High performance teams don’t look for fault, they look for effort; having the right person in the right job and ways to be nimble and remove obstacles.  A leader who shames and bullies may enjoy short-term gains, but the long-term outlook is bleak.

Leaders who help their teams grow through wins and losses build hope, loyalty and success for the organization.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s