Category Archives: Quotes

Lots and lots of great quotes


Following - not leading

Here’s a great quote, that goes to the very heart of leadership:

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

– Ralph Nader

I could not agree more: good leaders create devoted followers, but great leaders create more leaders. Lao Tzu spoke to the same thing 2500 years ago when he said:

A leader is best when the people are hardly aware of his existence,
not so good when people stand in fear,
worse, when people are contemptuous.

Fail to honour people, and they will fail to honour you.

But a good leader who speaks little,
when his task is accomplished, his work done,
the people say “We did it ourselves.”

Have you known a leader, whose leadership style naturally created more leaders around him or her? What did that leader do?

Related post:


QuoteThe most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.

– Warren Bennis

I could not agree more. Good leadership is about making your people happy and while that certainly comes easier and more naturally to some people, almost anyone can learn.

How leaders motivate – or not


Here’s a great quote that speaks to the true nature of good leadership:

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

The key here is “because he wants to do it.” This is called intrinsic motivation, and it’s the only type of motivation that works reliably and in the long term.

Companies who practice this find that they no longer need to struggle to motivate people and light their fire – people motivate themselves. They approach work with zest, creativity and energy because what they want to do matches what the company wants them to do.

You don’t need to whip them with an endless succession of bonuses, prizes, thinly veiled threats, cheap corporate tchotchkies or meaningless awards to get them to perform. And anyway, there’s no way any of that can ever match the results people create when they’re simply happy at work.

Peter Block and Peter Koestenbaum put it like this in their excellent book Freedom and accountability at work:

We currently act as if people are not inherently motivated, rather that they go to work each day and wait for someone else to light their fire.

This belief is common among managers and employees alike…

It is right and human for managers to care about the motivation and morale of their people, it is just that they are not the cause of it.

True motivation can only come from inside yourself – in life and at work. Goals that others set up for you, with no regard for your wishes can never truly motivate, no matter what punishments or rewards are held up before you.

So: What motivates you at work? What tasks do you approach with relish? What parts of your work fill you with energy and a natural desire to do a great job? Please write a comment, I’d really like to know.

I previously explored motivation here:


WordsTreat the enterprise as a community of engaged members, not a collection of free agents.

Corporations are social institutions, which function best when committed human beings (not human “resources”) collaborate in relationships based on trust and respect.

Destroy this and the whole institution of business collapses.

– Henry Mintzberg (Via Workplay)


Play at workThe Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion.

He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.

– James Michener, quoted in this fantastic article about play at work (thx for the tip, Sridhar)

I agree totally and this is very much how I live my life these days. I perceive no real distinction between work, play and leisure.

Interestingly, this clashes with many of the recommendations around work/life balance, which often revolve around creating firm barriers between work and not-work. I previously wrote about why we shouldn’t seek work/life balance but work/life integration.

If you want to know more about play at work, check out Junkyard Sports and their excellent Junkyard Golf Conference Kickstarter kit. It’s a fun way to introduce play to even the most serious gathering.

Make your body happy at work

Move at work

Imagine working closely together with a colleague who complains all the time: when you have been using the mouse for five minutes he will start bitching, and when you’ve been sitting for half an hour he starts yelling at you. This is the case for many people every day –only the colleague is closer than you think –it’s your own body.

If you have office work, chances are that you regularly experience one or more of the following:

  1. Headaches
  2. Upper back and neck pain
  3. Lower back pain
  4. “Mouse arm??
  5. General stiffness and aching

What’s this? You love your job so much. You jump out of bed in the morning shouting “Yes! I’m going to work today!?? And your body starts giving you all sorts of complaints. Why? Well, let’s take a look at what kind of work your body was originally designed to do.

10.000 years ago, before the beginnings of any kind of civilization and through ages of natural selection, the human body (and mind) had become highly specialized in the art of hunting and gathering. Life was all about finding –and killing- food, and avoiding becoming food. If food became scarce, then you moved to find it elsewhere, living a nomadic lifestyle. Everyday, all day, nothing could be obtained without movement. Physical activity was essential. If you couldn’t move –you died.

Nowadays most of us can easily live our lives with a minimum of physical activity, thanks to cars, elevators, e-mails, pizza delivery and the like. So why all these physical complaints and ailments? Your body should be happy to get off the hook, shouldn’t it? Well, it isn’t, and here’s why: Your body likes to move, and what’s more, it needs to! It is its nature, you might say. Strapping your body behind a desk with minimum movement for 8-10 hours a day is going against nature, on the physical level. And going against nature makes you… well, unhappy. Just like your mind grows dull without intellectual stimulation, your emotions wither away without love and companionship – so your body will start aching and complaining when you don’t exercise it.

So, what to do, to make our closest colleague happy? Start moving! Here are some suggestions:

1: Remember: moving is fun!
If you have forgotten, then it is time to rediscover the joy of physical activity. Play more. Organize office chair races, or give lunch break dance lessons.

2: Relax!
If you cultivate a relaxed and easy-going attitude, then you are more likely to avoid stress. Without stress you will be less tense, and you are able to feel your bodily needs; also the need to move.

3: Use any excuse to get out of the chair.
Go see people instead of calling or e-mailing. Deliberately move your most used files to the opposite wall in the office.

4: Move for no reason.
For instance, decide to do phone calls balancing on one leg.

5: Buy furniture that invites you to move about.
Like elevating desks and gym-balls to sit on. Though apparently bean-bag chairs can go horribly wrong in the workplace:

6: At least twice a week, do a proper work-out.
Doesn’t matter what kind as long as you are sweating like a pig and having lots of fun. If you haven’t found your fun work-out yet, keep looking. It’s out there!

The pay-off? Reducing any physical pains will of course improve your productivity and concentration. Also, more movement increases your physical energy, which in turn makes you more motivated and more positive.

Happy moving!

Nicolas KjerulfThis post was written by physiotherapist Nicolas Kjerulf (yes, that’s my brother!)

Nicolas promotes health in companies in and around Copenhagen, Denmark. You can see his website here (in Danish) and you can contact him at

Kids today – they get it

DogA commenter on my friend Bjarne’s blog tells this story:

Not long ago my youngest son told me “I’ll do anything for money!”

“OK, ” I said “I’ll give you 20 kroner ($4) to pick up the dog poo in the garden.”

“Yuck!!” the kid said, “there’s no way I’m taking a sh*t job like that!”

Kids today – there’s no way they’ll grow up and work jobs that don’t make them happy. That’s why companies today need to shape up and become great workplaces – or they’ll only ever be able to hire old, crotchety types who accept the idea of spending their days in unpleasant or just mediocre workplaces.

I’m telling ya – the future belongs to the happy!

In assorted news, I’m in the Danish media these days. I posted a link to this story at the fine Truthteller blog about a company that hired a happiness manager, and was interviewed for a couple of articles AND live on national radio. Cool :o) Article, article. The radio interview is not available on line yet, I’ll post a link later.

Also, I’m still here – I’ve just found myself very busy this week. There are some good posts coming (including one on the top 10 things managers do that makes employees unhappy) as soon as I get my blogging mojo back :o)