Image by ShashiBellamkonda via Flickr
It's been over a month since my last blog post because I got burnt out. I did not get burnt out on blogging, but on leadership theories because they are all bunk.
It started with the book Drive by Daniel Pink, then Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, and finally the book Rework by 37 Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
I blogged my criticism of Drive. Although the book does a good job of popularizing motivation theories, it falls well short of an accurate and useful analysis or application of these modern psychological theories. Steven Reiss' book The Normal Personality is much better, but not near as readable nor marketable.
I really enjoyed Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness. It was interesting to learn how he risked it all to bring Zappo's back from the brink of bankruptcy. The book was also very autobiographical and vulnerable. He wrote the book himself and I like his writing style.
Rework also grabbed and held my attention. Again, the founders wrote the book themselves and I like the writing style. They get right to the point and don't waste a bunch of words.
Rework and Delivering Happiness were in direct opposition with one very important topic: company culture. Tony Hsieh's whole book revolved around developing a culture of happiness because it leads to profits. On the other hand, Rework states, "You can't create culture. It happens. Don't force it. You can't install culture." Whereas Hsieh spends tons of money manufacturing culture, 37 Signals allows culture to emerge from daily operations.
At the end of the day, none of it matters. Cultures are nothing without profits. The quickest way to erode culture (and happiness) is to erode profits. Nobody is happy when your company is losing money and laying off people.
Furthermore, there are as many leadership theories as there are leaders. 37 Signals could never implement Zappo's culture and vice versa. My criticism of Zappo's culture is that I doubt the corporate culture in Vegas filters outside the city limits and down through all departments. Each individual's culture experience is based on his/her relationship with their boss. Each supervisor determines the culture of his/her department. There is no such thing as a company culture. Company cultures evolve and change over time, anyway.
There are 16 common motivators, but each individual has a unique set of motivators. Whether your primary motivator is family, money, prestige, exercise, curiosity, food, order, or power, there is one common denominator -- money. All basic desires require money to meet these desires. The bottom line is the bottom line. Money might not buy happiness, but it's one hell of a down payment.