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Fear Is a Good Motivator – For All the Wrong Reasons

Paradigm Shifters > Leadership  > Fear Is a Good Motivator – For All the Wrong Reasons
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Fear Is a Good Motivator – For All the Wrong Reasons

Have you ever witnessed a manager or supervisor openly and publicly shaming an employee for doing something wrong? Whether you work with these people or not, if you see it happen, you likely experience the same thing that everyone else does – embarrassment. There’s no doubt that it’s embarrassing for everyone involved to see a leader handling a problem this way, but have you ever stopped to think about why you feel embarrassed when you see something like this happen?

When a leader habitually shames and/or blames employees for problems, challenges, and/or conflicts, they are leading with fear instead of positivity and incentives. When they do it in public, everyone can see that the manager or supervisor is not feeling confident in their own role and is therefore overcompensating for that fear.

Onlookers can also see that the leader in this situation is using fear as a tactic to keep their employees in line. This kind of leadership technique is a really good way to diminish performance and lose good employees. Here’s why…

Fear Is a Good Motivator – For All the Wrong Reasons

First of all, leading with fear is a great way to motivate your employees…if you want to lose them sooner than later. When your employees’ incentive to be productive and to perform well is based on the fear of being fired or shamed (whether publicly or privately), you can expect short-term performance improvements. However, quality employees will be more motivated to find a better place to work than they will to continue putting out good work for you.

A conscious leader gives feedback in appropriate settings. If there is a problem, they will take an employee aside and have a private meeting with them. They leverage the situation as a learning opportunity for all sides involved, providing a safe and trusting environment in which it is easier to admit, look at and talk about failures and areas for improvement. Employees will never feel like they have to look over their shoulder to avoid being blamed or humiliated in front of others. Instead, they’ll have the resources they need to do their jobs in the best ways possible, and they’ll feel motivated through good communication and conscious leadership.

Leading from a Place of Fear Is Not Sustainable

As we mentioned, leaders who choose to humiliate and/or blame their employees usually do it because they lack self-confidence. Like schoolyard bullies, they will try to intimidate employees into respecting them. However, fear and respect are not the same and should not be treated the same.

You will get much more sustainable respect from your employees by being accountable for your own actions and responsibilities and by treating them with respect, as well. You’ll also foster more communication and a more dynamic and productive company culture and work environment. To do this, though, you must be confident in your own conscious leadership skills. You must trust your employees to do their jobs, and you must be able to maintain open dialogues with them about how you can best facilitate them.

As Brené Brown mentions in one of her fabulous books and TED talks, the last thing we want to show is our own vulnerability and the one thing we want to see in others is their vulnerability. As a conscious leader we take ownership of our life and therefore take responsibility for our actions. For that to be true and embodied by our actions, we need to also own our failures. We see these moments as another opportunity for cultivating consciousness. As a result we build trust and confidence in our colleagues who will be encouraged by our vulnerability.

At Paradigm Shifters, we specialize in leadership development to create meaningful, positive organizational change for our clients. For more information on our coaching and consulting services, call us today at (+1) 415-702-0334.

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