Before I continue with this post, allow me to pre-emptively address some criticism: I know to some people I’m already “cussing in church” when it comes to the title! I am well aware that I’ve already offended those of you who invest so much in the hallowed tradition of making sure that just one of your employees feel special every month. You maybe have clicked on this post just to object! If that is you, then I’d ask you to bear with me. I realize I have a strong opinion about this topic and I’d like to make a case for my opinion. I also respect your strong opinion to the contrary and if you write a post or comment in support of your position, I promise to read and consider it. With that said, let me tell you why your “Employee of the Month” program—and a few other things you do in the name of recognizing your people—may be doing you more harm than good.
The title of this post has probably already driven some people away and it may have some of you who decided to check it out wondering, “What does love got to do with leadership?” My answer is, of course, “Everything!” That may sound way too “kumbaya,” but I’m not going to apologize for it because it’s the truth. The bottom line is that if you do not love your people, you will fall short in leading them and you will most certainly not serve them to the best of your ability.
I’m going to let you in on a secret about me: I hate discipline! Not only do I hate it myself, I can’t even fathom why and how someone could like it at all. I mean, I understand that there is a lot of good stuff produced by exercising maturity and having the discipline to do what you don’t want to do in the present so that you get to have what you want to have in the future. I have personally experienced the joy of having accomplished a few things in my life that would not have been possible if I just did what I felt like at the time, but that doesn’t mean I like discipline. It just means that I like what discipline produces.
How would you like for your workplace to be a source of inspiration? Imagine that! For most of us, it’s a foreign concept and perhaps a bit naïve, even absurd, to think that the workplace could be a source of inspiration for employees. We live in a world where most—though not all—workplaces have been relegated to being sources of stress and agony. Our work is often seen as a necessary evil that we must put up with simply because we need to make a living; a place we go to trade our vitality and energy for a paycheck and then go home frustrated and kick the dog. There are, of course, those workplaces that buck this trend, but the truth is most workplaces wouldn’t qualify as a “source of inspiration” by any means.