Is leading by fear a viable strategy?

I have given this topic a lot of thought. In the process of writing this blog, my opinion on the topic has been challenged. Is leading by fear a viable strategy in business? I have read that it depends, and in some situations it can be acceptable. I don’t agree.

We scare you, you buy our product

While leading by fear will net short term results, it is not a good long term play. The problem is that leading by fear is easy, and it works, so leaders with limited time or narrow minds will default to this management style.

We see fear campaigns in a lot of different facets of marketing and advertising. Alarm companies marketing their products do so by showing criminals breaking into your home and potentially harming your family. Pest control companies show spiders and rats in a home and convince you that you need their services. Fear grabs our attention. It taps into the insecurities we have or it can create false insecurities.

Leaders in companies who lead by fear plant insecurities into employees to “motivate” them. Is my job at risk? Am I doing enough? Why is he/she mad at me?

Please don’t yell at your employees

Leading by fear is an antiquated way at managing people and it’s lazy. If you want long lasting results and a solid foundation, lead by empowering your team to be the best version of themselves. Lift up your team and encourage them. Give them the tools and autonomy that they need to succeed. If through this process you find that they are not the best fit for their role or your company, then it’s time for some candor. Use that information to help you hire the right people moving forward.

Who do you think is going to deliver the best results, consistently? An employee who is in constant fear or an employee who feels that you have their best interests at heart? Empower you team to be the best versions of themselves. Challenge them to grow. Show them how much you care and back it up with consistent actions towards that goal and watch your company take off.


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