The Greyhound Principle 732.2

Racing dogs are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit that always goes a little faster than the fleetest dog. This causes them to run faster than they otherwise would.

Companies that annually set overly ambitious performance objectives for their employees employ this greyhound principle. To a point, it works. Most people achieve more when expectations are set high.

The strategy turns negative, however, when firms chasing Wall Street’s rabbit continually set “no-excuses” double-digit growth goals without regard to market realities (including multiple competitors driving toward the same goals) or systemic understaffing (part of the “do more with less” philosophy). Consequently, many corporate leaders are caught up in a ceaseless upward spiral of stress.

Yes, the financial rewards for such success are ample, but the driving motivation is usually not greed and certainly not job satisfaction – it’s fear. This can often morph into desperation, a dangerous mindset that can spawn imprudent short-term decisions and outright cheating.

It’s unwise and unethical to ignore the business and moral implications of aggressive growth strategies that put executives under unprecedented, unrelenting, and unreasonable pressure.

On one level, it’s a matter of values. Work-life balance should be more than a rhetorical ideal. A good company cares about its people. The path to career success shouldn’t be littered with the ruins of failed marriages and neglected children.

On another level, it’s long-term self-interest. Without an abundant and replenishing pool of talented and committed leaders, no company will succeed for long. The organizations that will pull away in the next decades are those that can attract and retain the best talent because they’re places where those people want to work – and that will take a lot more than money.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 2

  1. Bravo! But don’t stop there. You have your thunb on the pressure point. Press a little harder on that nerve and you’ll reveal the root cause of the decline of American national power (read: influence).
    Our values are revealed not by what we say, but by what we do. If we continue selling the future for the next quarterly statement, our grandchildren will live in a very different world than we had invisioned for them.

  2. as a teacher and coach, i am interested to know how big time sports(high school and college)are impacted by the need to succeed and deliver the gold cup. Not just do well, but to win the championship year after year. firstly, reality is that its very difficult to win the championship year after year for very long. but what level of success is good enough for a coach to keep his/her job?

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