“She is a mission delivery machine!”

The Fresh Air Learning Company creates and supports game-changing leadership journeys for individuals, teams and organisations.

Fresh Air Learning blog 31A few days ago I had lunch with a senior HR manager in a global consulting firm. I was struck by his rather joyless work existence.

Twelve-hour days are his norm. With commuting he is turning in around 14 hours per day. Five, six days a week. There was a sense of resigned grind in his words and demeanor. Sound familiar?

Things are looking up however. A new HR Director has arrived in post.

Under the cosh

The previous one was a “mission delivery machine”. A mask of pleasantness would slip at the first hint of pressure to reveal an unpleasant toxic side. My friend and colleagues felt “under the cosh”.

She got what she thought she wanted – answers, information, people walking on eggshells and jumping through hoops.

Yet she never got what she and the business really needed – passion, energy, commitment, and innovation.

My friend is loving the prospect of his new boss setting a new, affirming and motivating tone; one that will encourage him, and the rest of the team, to bring their whole selves to work.

Pink performance

Fresh Air Learning blog 31bLater the same day I picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s “Drive” (2009).

Pink says, “Carrots and sticks are so last century….for 21st century work we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.”

How could you increase the autonomy you and your people have over task (what), time (when), team (who) and technique (how)?

How would it feel to get better and better at something you are passionate about, something that really matters to you?

How awesome would it be to exercise your yearning to do great things in the service of noble goals larger than yourself?

As a leader where do you sit on the “carrots and sticks” versus “autonomy, mastery and purpose” debate? Maybe there is an optimum, context dependent blend?

What fresh thinking is underway about motivation where you work? What is doable and desirable? How comfortable does all this feel? What help do you need?


Dave Stewart
The Fresh Air Learning Company