Often leaders believe that fear speeds things up. That it creates a sense of urgency or encourages their team to move in a certain direction faster. While instilling fear as a leader can add speed, it’s only temporary. And it won’t change anything long-term for the future or your team or business.
The reality of leading while using fear.
Fear is a compliance tool. Some may apply fear so that people will comply. It may look like, I need you to do what I want, so I’ll scare you a little bit so that you will. The issue is, do you want compliance or do you want commitment? Do you want people showing up at their best, to do their best, or just doing what you say?
Fear is also a disengagement tool. You can’t be scared and do better work and be engaged at the same time. Increased fear decreases engagement. You can’t work at your best while scared. If you’re using fear as a leader, you’re causing your team to focus on survival instead of excellence.
Fear is a turnover tool. It causes stress. Your most successful people won’t stay for long if they’re working in a stressful environment. Productivity decreases when you’re using fear. You’ve degraded the quality of your talent in your business by ruling out the excellent performers who can go work anywhere. They can’t be emotionally stressed and at their best at the same time, so they choose other employment instead.
Fear is an insecurity tool. Insecure leaders use fear as a tool. These leaders cave to their insecurities and use fear. They don’t want others to give their ideas, because they want their ideas implemented, not the ideas of others. This creates an environment where others don’t want to share their ideas, even if it could be key in the success of the business.
Fear decreases profitability. If your team is less productive because of fear, then your company is less profitable.
Take fear out of the equation
Look for places where you’re creating fear, and try to eliminate it. Ask good questions, invite people into conversations, connect with people in ways that cause them to see you as a human, instead of someone who controls their destiny.
While fear can speed things up, it’s not worth the cost. If you’re leading in a way that instills fear in others, you’re not leading at your best and the outcome will speak for itself.