In an award winning Super Bowl commercial, Reebok poked fun at “tough guy” leadership styles. “We asked Reebok to help us improve office productivity, we had no idea how effective their methods would be” says the CEO in the commercial. Next we see a bunch employees goofing off only to be mauled and tackled by Terry Tate, the big, bad, football player. “In fact, we wish Rebook had sent us ten Terry Tates.”
As funny as the clip is, it rings very true for many of us. Does punishment really equal good leadership for us in the long run? Against his will, Terry Tate is sent away on vacation. Where he spurs the lackluster hotel staff to unprecedented customer service. But while he is gone, what happens back at the office? Margaritaville parties and loss of performance. While the cats away, the mice will play. Terry returns to work realizing his leadership style only works as long as he is holding the stick. So what makes positive reinforcement so great?