Non-hierarchical Motivation

Why do the opinions of lower echelon employees matter? Alignment throughout an organization.

The management consultant and author Noel Tichy addresses this in his trademarked theory about maintaining a “Teachable Point of View.” What Tichy calls a “virtuous teaching cycle” sets the stage for mutual learning requires teachers to be open to learning themselves and the learners have the self-confidence to be absorb their instructors’ knowledge and to develop their own ability to teach.

All of this should take place in a non-hierarchical environment.

At a minimum, we advocate that leaders leverage the “lottery ticket” insight by augmenting their telling of the story with asking about the story.

Consider David Farr, CEO of Emerson Electric Company. Farr is noted for asking virtually everyone he encounters in his organization four questions related to his company’s story:

1. How do you make a difference? (testing for alignment on the company’s direction);
2. What improvement idea are you working on? (emphasizing continuous improvement);
3. When did you last get coaching from your boss? (emphasizing the importance of employee development); and
4. Who is the enemy? (emphasizing the importance of “One Emerson”/no silos, i.e., he wanted to emphasize that the “right” answer was the competition and not some other department).

What questions would you consider asking in order to test your own personal alignment with others, or that of your company?

Thanks for sharing.

For questions about this post or for information on becoming a fearless leader, contact Dr. Cathy Greenberg and The Fearless Leader Group at (888) 320-1299 or by email at


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