I'm not sure how many people have read the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I thought it was a phenomenal book years ago when I read it, even though it's one of the largest books on record as far as number of words, coming in around 645,000. I loved the story of Dagny Taggert, a railroad executive who seems to be fighting a losing battle in trying to help keep her railroad company relevant in the present society of the time as more people seem to be moving towards other modes of transportation. Throughout most of the book, she keeps getting confronted by this one odd question, at least odd at the time: "Who is John Galt?"

Of course it takes to getting near the end of the book that we finally find John Galt in some alternate land (I'll admit that part kind of lost me; I might have to go back over it again) and learn that he was so disgusted with the way life was that he created a new life and society where others who believed as he did ended up and were thriving under a new philosophy they called Objectivism. And man, does he talk about it; the speech ends up being over 50 pages long! There was a man who had something to say.

Basically, objectivism believes that reality and consciousness are independent of each other. Rand said "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

It may seem strange that I'm talking about this on my blog, and the principle does go a lot deeper than what's shown, but, in essence, if you look at just the basic philosophy above, can anyone say that this isn't how most people perceive their own lives? Who can truly say that they don't pursue everything in their life with the thought of what will make them happiest in the long run? Even if one's purpose is only to help others, isn't that action something that makes them the happiest?

I tend to believe that most managers are missing this concept when dealing with employees. I hear often about "bully" managers who seem to care only about themselves at the moment, not about long term success, or long term happiness of anyone else. One of my friends often says she's sitting around waiting for the person to whom she reports to start yelling at her for one thing or another. I also hear people who say they're always worried about making a mistake because they don't want to get castigated for it.

Managers to attempt to lead by fear and bullying are doomed to fail because they haven't learned the basic tenet of success, which is to try to make as many people as happy as they can be so that they will produce for them. Determining what makes these people happy and content during working hours is really what a manager's job is all about, and the need to keep employees motivated is stronger than the need to find ways to pay employees more money.

I think everyone should probably find a way to read, or listen, to Atlas Shrugged, but I know that's not going to happen. Instead, just think of the lessons it gives, and work towards making the workplace a nicer environment for your employees. You'll be amazed at the benefits on the back end.