What the Great Resignation and the Big Election Beatdown Have in Common

Quit

In August, over 4 million Americans quit their jobs — the so-called Great Resignation — despite COVID unemployment supplements expiring. Last Tuesday’s election delivered shockers such as a Republican winning Virginia’s gubernatorial election and Minneapolis, Seattle, and other cities rejecting Defund the Police advocates.

Common to these seemingly disparate events are a backlash against the finger-wagging classes who tell people to shut up and do as their self-appointed betters tell them to do. People are challenging the mandate-centric approach to leading and governing.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses. Seventy-five percent of those who quit their jobs did so to get away from their managers (Gallup, 2019). The 2021 numbers could be even higher.

COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and self-appointed betters. Leaders — public and private — should be exemplars, not overlords.

Persuasion gains buy-in, which motivates people to provide their discretionary effort. Coercion may gain compliance, but it also creates resistance. People vote with their feet.

There are times when mandates are necessary. When you establish a reputation for using persuasion to gain buy-in, you will get the benefit of the doubt when a crisis emerges.