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R.O.W.E. or M.O.V.E. Management

If you were asked to put an X below to indicate your belief about what motivates people to consistently give their best at work, where would you make your mark?

Innate Desire to Excel——————– Outside $-based Incentives

If your X is toward the left, you give people more autonomy. Autonomy a defines as the desire to be self-directed. By taking this intrinsic motivation approach, you create what open-minded business executives call a results-only work environment or R.O.W.E.

In a R.O.W.E. culture of freedom and trust, people are given clearly defined expectations and outcomes only. They are not told how or when to do the work they are assigned; only what needs be achieved and the deadline. Research shows that managers who offer autonomy soon discover that productivity increases, stress decreases and people are generally happier. They experience their manager as a servant leading.

If the X is to the right, this manager takes away people’s autonomy and replaces it with a control, relying on an extrinsic “carrot and stick” mode of operating. They create what I call an environment of manipulated outcomes verifying everything or M.O.V.E. This fear-based approach is infected by half-baked expectations and a granular “check with me first” style of management, creating a low-trust culture resulting in up -and-down productivity, high stress and burnout. People experience this type of manager as self-serving.

If you ask your direct reports to indicate with a X what your behavior says you believe about what really motivates people, where would they put their mark? Where would your spouse and children place their X?

Journal Entry: I hope this short note creates a desire to explore more about what really motivates people. The concept of R.O.W.E. is found in a book called What Really Motivates People by Daniel Pink. M.O.V.E. is something I made up one day when I had too much time on my hands.

If you’d like to learn more this subject, you can buy the book, which I recommend, Drive: What Really Motivates People. I hope this helps you and the people around you manage to have more fun and fulfillment in leadership and life.


Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. – General George S. Patton

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. – Harry S Truman

When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. – Joe Namath

The best test of a servant leader is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? – Robert Greenleaf

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles LORD it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. – The Bible book of Mark, Chapter 10, verse 42-45

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