When it comes to getting others to make a change there are traditionally only two options. The stick or the carrot.

Why would we use a stick? Sticks cause pain! People are highly motivated by avoiding pain and therefore they will move fast.  The assumption is that if we use a stick we will achieve fast results.

Why would we use a carrot? Carrots are tasty! People get satisfaction from tasty things and therefore will move by themselves. The assumption is that if we use a carrot they will take ownership of getting the results.

Ownership of fast results. Yep, that is what we are after as leaders.

The dilemma is that the way we traditionally use sticks and carrots directly oppose each other. All stick has negative side effects.  All carrot also has negative side effects. Providing half a stick and half a carrot? It doesn’t work.

Perhaps we should think more carefully about providing a carrot or a stick.  As leaders maybe we shouldn’t use them at all ….

“Nice donkey, I see you already have a carrot and a stick.  Let me know what sort of string you need.”

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