Follow the Yellow Brick Road

We may not be aware of it, but the classic “Wizard of Oz” and the yellow brick road are metaphors that push our goals and dreams.

We can look at this icon in American literature and film as a guide to successful living, winning at life, and “bringing home the bacon.” Plus, it may have special significance to managers.

As I have oft practiced late-night researching and last night re-discovered online, there is more to management than telling employees what they do wrong.  In the 1950’s F. Herzberg found keys to successful management included knowing how to motivate employees. Many scholarly and online articles about “The Human Factor” look at the manager’s impact on staff.

Managers often “underestimate the impact” which they “personally have upon the habits and effectiveness” of the work “group.” Management’s attitude can negate the will and effort that employees display in their everyday work.

So, like the bickering amongst the “Wizard of Oz” team impacted how they came to Oz, so too can bullying and belittling words from the manager at work negate the motivation of employees. These articles examine behavior, motivation, achievement, recognition, problems, and tools to improve a manager’s relationship with the team.

Clearly, these easy-to-understand articles, as does the “Wizard of Oz,” point out that it is respect of each other, and so, team member, that leads to positive outcomes. Dorothy, arguably a manager, helps Scarecrow see that he does have a brain; illustrates to Cowardly Lion that he has had courage all along, and to the rusting Tin Man that his heart beats after all. As representatives of the human condition in symbolic form, these symbols for humanness tell us again and again, it is in the respect for one another in the work environment, as team players, that the most work can be accomplished. Dorothy is positive not negative with her cohorts. In so being gentle and positive with their human conditions, she motivates them further down the yellow brick road—a symbolic notion of prosperity and upward mobility.

What would have happened in the story if Dorothy had been a loud-mouthed bully like the Wicked Witch and screamed put-downs at every turn in the road to Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion?  She soon would have found herself alienated on the journey to Oz.  In Oz, she would not have discovered the gentle old man behind the gruffness.

As a veteran teacher and people manager, I challenge readers. Today, load up on reflective respect and positive perceptions.  Then follow the symbolic yellow brick road to your dreams and goals with respect, positivity, and reassurance.