The Only Thing to Fear Is Those Who Lead by Fear

200397985-001Many of us have experienced the departure of a negative co-worker or manager from a company. Always, there is a collective sigh of relief as the removal of this cancerous presence breathes new life into the organization. No longer drained by the unhealthy distractions and toxic interactions, the team is free to focus on the business at hand instead of shielding and protecting themselves from the next wave of negative fallout. It’s little wonder that we often see a surge of productivity and profitability following the dismissal or resignation of antagonistic people.

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Leaders who lead by fear are the worst of this bunch; I know, because I was one of them. Early in my career I was given tons of responsibility that I found overwhelming and scary. My biggest mistake was that I turned that fear around and used it on those who reported to me. I didn’t like me very much, nor did they. My wake-up call was the day a valued employee walked out the door — right in front of a customer who had just walked in.

The good news is that I learned to lead by faith, not fear. Faith in a system, faith in people, and, most importantly, faith in my growing abilities to lead in a positive way. It wasn’t an overnight process, however, my transformation took a relatively short period of time because of the positive role models I sought out who coached me to a better way of being a leader. Because of their help and my commitment to the process, I went from being someone who was despised and feared to one that was admired and revered.

If you’re a leader who manages by any form of intimidation, coercion, manipulation, or scare tactics, stop it! Stop buying into such an archaic approach. Beating people over the head may have worked in the days of cavemen and dinosaurs; both are long extinct, as should be this practice. But don’t stop there. Changing how you manage requires commitment, support, and an ongoing process of change and adaption over time. Get a mentor. Get a coach. Get help!

For those who manage leaders who lead by fear, stop putting up with this. You’re culpable if you don’t. Set clear standards and expectations for a positive approach of unwavering accountability. Hold your leaders to improving and meeting this standard. If they can’t, let them go. Move on.

The only thing we really need to fear is when we don’t address leader induced fear. That’s what’s truly scary.

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Scott Wintrip
Scott Wintrip is the president of the Wintrip Consulting Group and StaffingU. He was named to the Staffing 100 by Staffing Industry Analysts in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He can be reached at scott (at) ScottWintrip (dot) com.

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