Excerpt: Bury My Heart in Conference Room B

Do companies feel the pain of not having emotional commitment from their managers?…Ask any company at any time about their top ten chronic challenges. Manager performance will always appear on the list…

Missed deadlines, lack of innovation, fluctuating product quality and legal liability are all part of the high cost of low management commitment. That's when they stay. When sales managers leave, they take great customers with them; when engineering managers leave, they take great ideas with them; when charismatic managers leave, they take great people with them. How many companies can say this problem doesn't matter?…

Why then has such an obvious problem not been mated with the resources and resolve to fix it?…Companies are driven by executive teams, most often a group of highly intelligent, highly skilled and highly compensated people, all focused on the goal of keeping the enterprise growing and profitable…Their companies solve problems and survive or they don't solve problems and fail, and either way the people running them become smarter and better able to anticipate and resolve challenges they've faced before. This is the evolving history of business.

So where is the evolved methodology for creating the highest level of self-sustaining motivation from their manager culture? Where is the genetic corporate memory for solving this problem, subscribed to by any company without conscious thought? Why hasn't a pro forma method—the classic corporate manual—been developed for how to get the most out of managers by gaining their emotional commitment? …

Without emotional commitment from managers a company can't ever realize the dream of being a self-structuring, self-protective system. Problems never fully stop, opportunities are never fully leveraged and, even on the best days with the biggest wins, the executive team is a little on edge amongst itself about confidently predicting the future. The company remains constantly vulnerable and expends tremendous resources, even in a mature state, focused on survival.

And yet, companies have seemingly missed fixing the one thing that threatens all other things. It just doesn't make sense.

Or does it?

"Organization" comes from the same root word as "organism"—and for good reason. A company is an organism, a self-sustaining ecosystem. Like any organism, its primary priority is to survive. In order for a corporate organism to survive, it needs managers to help it function and grow. And it needs those managers to place company priorities over personal priorities whenever necessary, to marginalize their own values and beliefs in favor of company goals and methods.

To ensure this happens, companies bribe, bluff and bully their managers. In return, companies get financial, intellectual and physical commitment. But they don't get emotional commitment, which is what they really need to ensure ultimate survival.

Companies can't get emotional commitment from their managers because the company believes it needs to be the dominant organism in the relationship, which causes managers to have to repress their own values—and so causes them to detach emotionally from their jobs. Inorder to really get that emotional commitment, a company would have to reattach managers to their own deep drivers—allow them to live their own values and act according to their own personal codes.

Uh, who's got the folder marked Plan B? "This has Company Nightmare stamped all over it. If managers were allowed to live their value of Family, maybe they wouldn't work fifty hours a week, stay away from home constantly or constantly take the job home with them. If managers were allowed to live their value of Integrity, maybe they wouldn't represent a product to customers as performing the best and at the lowest cost when it doesn't, it isn't—or it doesn't even exist yet. If managers were allowed to live their value of Health, maybe they would resist conditions of constant stress. If managers were allowed to live their value of Freedom, maybe they would demand autonomy in decisions and pay less respect to an enforced hierarchy. If managers were allowed to live their value of Creativity, maybe they wouldn't necessarily conform to established policy."

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.