Is it good to be the king?
We, a group of managers and senior individual contributors (ICs), were sitting together, discussing career ladders.
One person spoke about being at a higher level — it means he has more power and freedom to choose what he wants or is interested to do.
The book, The Motive, immediately came to my mind.
It tells a story about two CEOs. They represent two types of leaders:
Reward-centered leader: the belief that being a leader is the reward for hard work; therefore, the experience of being a leader should be pleasant and enjoyable, free to choose what they work on and avoid anything mundane, unpleasant, or uncomfortable.
Responsibility-centered leader: the belief that being a leader is a responsibility; therefore, the experience of leading should be difficult and challenging (though certainly not without elements of personal gratification).
I hope it is not difficult to see that the latter is the better type.
Of course, no leader falls squarely into one type. But one of the two motives will eventually dominate the way they work.
More importantly, this book reminds us that humans often follow the path of least resistance. We all find ourselves tempted to be reward-centered, seek out opportunities that are fun, and ignore anything that is tedious or unpleasant. Therefore, it is critical for any leader to reflect on their predominant motive from time to time, and do whatever it takes to move closer to a responsibility-centered one.
Beyond leadership, I believe, identifying and reflecting on motives is equally helpful as well.
It is like tending to a garden. A garden needs to be regularly tended to in order for it to flourish, our motives need to be tended to in order for us to thrive in all areas of our lives. Just like a gardener must pull out weeds and fertilize the soil to ensure healthy growth, we must be mindful of negative motives and actively cultivate positive ones. And just as a beautiful garden brings joy and nourishment to those who see it, a well-tended garden of motives can bring happiness and success to ourselves and those around us. (Written by ChatGPT)