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Serving the collective self-interest of individuals can be a potent force to achieve the strategic goals of an organization.

While this may sound unusual to some, this is the best way, if not the only way, to create the energy to push an agenda. Organizations thrive if the collective self-interest of stakeholders are identified and factored-in, in the overall strategy and action plan.

quotation about self interest

Self-interest is anchored on the desire to gain something or to break out of the status quo.

Come to think of it, what attracts people to a company? Compensation, convenience, career path, the value of the brand, access to the network, and so forth. These are but examples of self-gain.

Some say there is another way to motivate, I agree because there is such thing as internal motivators. However, the nontangible motivators, like the feel-good effect of altruism, are also self-gain.

Self-interest is neutral. It is greed and the ‘end justifies the means’ approach that makes it self-serving.

If the focus is to get more at the expense of others, like grabbing more land at the expense of small farmers, or cheating employees of their rightful wages, then self interest is bad. If the focus is to gain more skills for self development, then personal interest is not bad.

Because self-interest is also what powers people to continue a certain path despite setbacks and challenges, we cannot simply ignore it.

Self Interest is the Carrot

If a company identifies and capitalize on the self-interest of people, dangles them as a form of product/service for consumers or reward for employees, it creates an energy that can push an organization towards a specific purpose, and create value.

Companies thrive when they attract and retain people who can sustain the energy to break new ground and gain more.

The Ethics of Self Interest

For the herd, the standard for success is simple, more wealth gained = success, regardless of how the wealth is acquired.  The wealthier you become, the more reputable you will be.

Because of this simple formula, professional relationships are strained at the very least, and worse, social injustice begins.

Self Interest and Leadership

There is a thin line separating strategic leadership from manipulation.

A strategist knows when to tap and when to stop. A manipulator keeps going. Strategists respect human rights and dignity, a manipulator abuses humanity. A strategist empowers, a manipulator enslaves.

I guess the line is pretty clear

Self Interest and Professionalism

Courtesy goes a long way.

I have heard of peeps who walked away from professional relationships abruptly because their self-interests are no longer being served

Walking away can be literal, like going AWOL and not honoring contractual obligations leaving the other party in limbo. Or figurative.

Walking away is not always physical. Sometimes, people stay in a professional relationship or employer-employee relationship but the action betrays decency and logic.

Staying in a professional relationship also requires mutual respect. Just like in personal relationships, you keep the fire burning by serving each other’s interests. In return, loyalty and exclusivity are expected.

However, that is not happening in some professional/ employer-employee relationships. There is a lack of loyalty to the brand, stealing time and resources, bad-mouthing the company and its people, and shortchanging the company in any way.

While pursuing a better opportunity is wise, it is wiser to honor the terms of engagement

We all want to be better, we want to grow. It’s not bad. It becomes evil when we cross the line of human decency.


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