About pushing donkeys and the magically pulling ones (McGregor X and Y)

Have you ever been in a (work) situation and asked yourself how it comes, that everything feels a bit odd? It is weird, you can’t put your finger on it, its everywhere and nobody seems to do anything on their own. You have to tell everybody what to do, how to do it and especially when. You hear phrases like “THAT was not described” or “that is not my task/my job”. One possible explanation is the following: the world is directly bound to what you and your surrounding thinks what life is. Let us have a closer look on the deepest believes. Here especially the theory of X and Y by McGregor.

X – what is it?

First comes the odd example we started the post with: the Theory X. In this mindset the believe, that the average worker has no fun at work at all, is very strong. If even possible, the motivation has to be extrinsic. Either treats, like money, or threat will do this job. You have to push everyone like a stubborn donkey to do anything. Deeply underlying in this world is the thesis “everybody hates work”. Interesting part is, that after a while in such a surrounding many guys will really hate their work. And they will need to be pushed, because nothing really matters for them.

Y – why is it?

On the other side of the scale there is a viewpoint where everybody is intrinsic motivated. The typical guy loves to work and enjoys the fruits of it. She needs goals bigger than herself. Work is seen as a part of life! With this insights the intrinsic motivation is born and cultivated in everybody.

Z – what comes next?

Not invented or thought by McGregor, but remarkable is Theory Z. Here the leader or manager sees even further and creates the culture very aware into the direction of meaning and moral. On this path failure is seen as natural, a way to learn and improve things and people. The creativity is fostered in every possible way. Everything tends to push not only the team or organisation forwards, but the whole environment forward. This deeper meaning lasts much longer and unleashes more energy than just letting people doing as they think it is best.

Conclusion

There is no completely X or Y or Z environment. As always, if there are individuals, everyone has her own state of mind, her own level of evolution and her own beliefs. This concept of diversity can be found also in books about Spiral Dynamics, Tribes and Tribal Leadership. The most common states can be assumed as the state of the whole system. Also the widespreaded culture in the leadership tells you the main stream.

To identify your peers, carefully look for things in the outer world, like checklists with a signing policy (don’t get me wrong, there are critical environments in which those are necessary – but if they are massive used for really small things, it can be a good pointer). Also develop a sense for phrases people/managers/leaders use. A common example is “you can’t rely on anybody”, “if you want it done well, just do it yourself” or “they are doing what they want”. This shows deeply, the missing trust for intrinsic motivation of others. Find out your personal type. Or at least try it! Ask your peers, what they think, if you don’t have a specific feeling. Be proud of whatever comes out – it is ok to be X, Y or Z. It only is another tool! Don’t blame anybody else for their nature. If you are a good leader, you will learn how to lift people to the next level. If you aren’t able already now!

What are your experiences with cultures and such categorizations? Do you know your characteristic? Let the world know and leave a comment!

Thanks for reading and sharing if you liked it!

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