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Are employees inherently lazy?

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In the 1960s, management academic Douglas McGregor posited two theories, X and Y. The former described workers as lazy and in need of controlling, while the latter construed leadership as creating the conditions for the inner motivations of employees to emerge in service of high quality work.

In essence, McGregor said your treatment of others hinges on how you view them. Further, as a leader, how you show up with — and for — other people is rooted in your confidence, or lack thereof, in their capabilities. If you believe status and authority make you wiser, and you identify with the power vested in your title to call all the shots, it’s highly likely you’ll create a climate of fear and low engagement.

If, on the other hand, you value protecting, developing and stewarding the creativity and wisdom in others, you will create the climate and culture for valuable work to emerge.

Here’s the bottom line: leaders are in the business of calling forth and nurturing the resourcefulness, strengths and inventiveness in others. If you’re not doing that in your role as a leader, ask yourself why. If your employees aren’t bringing their best efforts to your organization, you might want to start addressing the beliefs and biases you carry about people who are not you.

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lisa Schmidt

Organizational culture change agent, professional coach and catalyst of creativity, change & learning. Find me at