Join getAbstract to access the summary!

How Leaders Kill Meaning at Work

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

How Leaders Kill Meaning at Work


5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Corporate leaders often unintentionally but systematically destroy their managers’ inner lives. 

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


According to McKinsey consultants Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, America’s CEOs and corporate leaders often inadvertently destroy their managers’ inner lives. The authors describe four common morale-destroying behaviors that top executives can avoid. When McKinsey surveyed managers at seven major American corporations, it found corporate leaders avoided the four morale killers in only one company. This article may help ground executives lost in the stratosphere of grand strategy.


To execute bold strategies, don’t gauge your managers’ performance with outmoded or unrelated metrics.

Influential leaders provide their managers with vision and actionable, relevant goals. Leaders who give clear marching orders engage their management team and enrich individual managers with a sense of purpose in their work. 

Using outdated systems or metrics to gauge that work is the first morale-destroying leadership mistake. Senior executives may advance a bold strategy and still frustrate their managers with quarterly accounting systems or outdated enterprise performance targets that reward risk-averse behavior, reinforce mediocre performance, and hobble innovation and creativity. Instead, offer managers morale-boosting incentives for meeting benchmarks that measure their real progress toward...

About the Authors

Teresa Amabile teaches at Harvard Business School where she is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration. Steven Kramer is a freelance writer and researcher.

Comment on this summary