Fear-Based Leadership is a Thing of the Past

You have a team leader who is a bit of a bully, wreaking havoc with the team members and causing a general slide in performance. Transfer requests are littering your desk, and turnover is at an all-time high. You always have the option of replacing the team leader, but is there another way of solving the situation, and creating a positive, constructive culture?

Fear-based, restrictive, compliant cultures have become the dinosaurs of the age. Pushing, bullying, or coercing employees inevitably causes three things: creative avoidance, slovenly work that is only “good enough,” and active procrastination. There is no striving for excellence, and the employee only does enough to get the boss to go away.

This is not a recipe for success, and making the mistake of thinking that bringing in some- body tougher to “force these people to really work” only succeeds in making things worse.

To optimize effectiveness, organizations are moving away from this aggressive style of management. These types of organizations push their people, and then spend a lot of time, energy and resources trying to succeed in spite of themselves. By nature, when pushed, human beings push back and psychologically refuse to give their best.

The cost of aggressive leadership can be financially crippling to an organization from low morale and productivity, to recruiting and training new employees because of increased employee turnover. It is virtually impossible to maintain a successful, aggressive, fear-based culture long term. Eventually individuals and teams disengage, under-perform or leave the organization altogether.

Constructive cultures foster the attitude of possibilities within the organization. People are encouraged and “want to” come to work, instead of feeling they “have to” come to work. These cultures have given up on the old “my way or the highway,” “shape up or ship out” method of thinking. It just doesn’t work – at least it doesn’t work effectively. Effective organizations engage their people in the quest for excellence and success. Culture change will only happen if employees have choices, but that freedom of choice does not come without consequences.

Employees need to see that there are consequences to their actions, because those actions affect every other member of the team or department. Work then becomes a “want to” because of a sense of shared responsibility with other team members who are working toward being the very best they can be.

Create an atmosphere where employees can work without fear, but not without con- sequences. “I know that if I mess up, there is a consequence.” “I know that if I do not perform my best, we lose.” But don’t dwell on the consequence. Dwell on, “How good can we be? How much can we do?” Look inside and see the passion to accomplish – that is a constructive culture’s greatest advantage.

Compliant cultures have employees who are clock-watchers, who can hardly wait for quitting time on Fridays – and then dread coming to work on Mondays. Constructive cultures celebrate employees who can’t wait to get to work, are engaged in the organizations goals, and are dedicated to seeing every project through to successful completion.

Can you handle those types of employees? Do you want this kind of success?