MARKETING

5 Reasons Ayn Rand Is Bad for Business

CEOs that tout Ayn Rand as a "must read" in their firm are making a huge mistake.

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For decades, CEOs have touted Ayn Rand as a "must-read" for staff and employees alike.  Here are five good reasons that's a bad idea--if you want your business to be successful.

1. Rand focuses employees on money.

Rand practically worshipped the almighty dollar, seeing the acquisition of wealth as a goal worthy in and of itself.

Unfortunately, when that attitude spreads throughout an organization, a higher salary becomes the only motivation that really works. That means  top workers will, of course, leave the moment they get a better offer elsewhere.

2. Rand encourages selfishness.

For Rand, there is no higher good than pursuing one's own happiness. The problem with that philosophy is that it encourages workers to view their personal success as being far more important than the group's success--and that kind of self-centered thinking is fatal to getting team members to work together.

3. Rand creates fanatics.

While some Rand fans have a nuanced view of her, there are plenty of people who glom onto her writing with evangelical intensity.  Their quest to convince everyone else in the workplace that Rand was the greatest thinker and philosopher of the 20th century (or maybe of all time) is distracting, annoying, and counter-productive.

4. Rand alienates the religious.

Rand's value system is the antithesis of Judeo-Christian teaching. For example, while Jesus says "blessed are the poor," Rand calls them "moochers."

Top-quality workers who value their religious faith might (and should) feel out of place in a work environment that seeks to canonize Rand's peculiar brand of atheism.

5. Rand discourages charitable giving.

Rand devotees criticize CEOs who give to charity because "you have no moral obligation to 'give back,' because you didn't take anything in the first place."

For many workers, though, an altruistic desire to "give back" is a strong motivator. Such workers respect leaders who know that others contributed to their success.

Please not that I am not making a judgment on the philosophical validity of Objectivism or Ayn Rand's work in general. I'm only pointing out that if you promote her writing inside your own company, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

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Last updated: Aug 16, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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