Once upon a time

There is a story that constantly reminds me of a fundamental human trait. It is an excerpt from The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

Once upon a time, an emperor appointed a second in command (a prime minister). He called this prime minister in and said to him, “Why don’t we divide up the tasks? Why don’t you do all the punishing and I’ll do all the rewarding?” The prime minister said, “Fine. I’ll do all the punishing and you do all the rewarding.”

This emperor, soon noticed that whenever he asked someone to do something, they might do it or they might not do it. However, when the prime minister spoke, people moved. So the emperor called the prime minister back in and said, “Why don’t we divide the tasks again? You have been doing all the punishing here for quite a while. Now let me do the punishing and you do the rewarding.”

So the prime minister and the emperor switched roles again.

Within a month, the prime minister was emperor.

The emperor had been a nice person, rewarding and being kind to everyone; then he started to punish people. People said, “What’s wrong with the old codger?” and they threw him out on his ear.

When they came to look for a replacement, they said, “You know who’s really starting to come around now – the prime minister.” So they put him right into office.

Read into it what you will, but there’s a lot to learn, especially for new leaders of teams.

– Osasu Oviawe 

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