To Love or To Fear

The Boss.

I know, I shudder at the thought of mine too. Some invoke a feeling of fear and intimidation while others a sense of support and equal respect. So, which is better? Do we become the leader everyone fears or the leader everyone loves?

I’m sure most of you, if not all of you, have heard of the name Niccoló Machiavelli. If you haven’t, he was a politician, writer and philosopher among other things who questioned, as a leader, if it’s more effected to be loved or feared by those who follow. He says both, but more so feared. Why? It offers security.

I can see this. As with a stern, strict office comes great respect for leadership and legitimate, on-time work.

HOWEVER do not forget that leading with force and intimidation has extreme downsides. Intimidation and fear can trigger anxieties which can decrease effective productivity, kill employer-employee (or leader-follower) communication and cause a kind of “survival mode” in the employee. What’s survival mode you ask? We’ve all felt this before. It’s that on-edge, pressure-filled feeling when you want to get all tasks done even if the quality is not so high. This obviously isn’t something an employer (or employee) would want since it doesn’t produce high quality tasks.

SO- do we turn to love?

Well, Machiavelli wouldn’t recommend it (on its own at least) and I wouldn’t either. I know, I know I just spent the last 3 mini paragraphs basically ripping intimidating leaders but balance is key. The main reason full love wouldn’t… might not work in an office setting is security. The last thing a good leader would want to lose is their security, aka, they don’t want to be taken advantage of or used as a puppet. They are still in charge but in a loving, laid back relationship, leaders can sometimes lose their grip on employees.

Fortunately, being a loved leader leads to loyalty, empowered workers, and increased creativity. With no negativity in the office, a workable, open communication environment can be established.

Now, which will you choose?

The main way to decide your boss personality is to look at those under you. Not EVERYONE can work in a relaxed environment just like not EVERYONE can work in a micro-managed intimidating one. Change it up a bit. If someone works better under pressure, give them all the pressure they want, if not go after another approach or talk to them about why they’re not responding to your leadership approach.

Keep in mind, I don’t have a PHD in Communication Studies (although I did take classes in college) but Machiavelli doesn’t lie… maybe both is better than one.


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