A lot of times when new leaders are assigned to oversee a team, they are naturally drawn to a style of fear based leadership. This is mainly because they suspect they may not be able to establish a hard boundary with the team if they come in too soft or friendly. Some people can make this style of leading work, while it is just an act for others.
A leader must lead with true authenticity in order to have the most effectiveness. [Tweet it!]
I fell into the same trap myself a while back. As a young leader, with little to no experience, I was tasked with leading a small team that the organization relied on to complete huge goals. Because of my lack of knowledge in this area, I was naturally drawn to implementing a fear based leadership style. I quickly figured out that what I was doing was not going to work. The best one can do at that point is to wipe the slate clean and start over, but it is easier said than done.
4 Drawbacks of Fear Based Leadership
1. The leader loses all credibility
If a leader has to default to a fear based leadership style, the team will quickly make their judgments. Leaders that have to rely on fear to lead a team are seen as incompetent. This is because the act of imposing fear to lead is seen as a way of hiding insecurities.
2. The team is afraid to act
Survival is a direct outcome of fear. Even if they were to come up with great ideas, they know from past experience their ideas are about to get shot down before they even had a chance. They will be afraid to speak up and innovation stalls.
3. The leader loses trust
Trust is a finite, unstable resource the successful leader holds. It can be hard to build and once lost, is very hard to get back. Once a leader develops an environment saturated with fear, it can be hard for them to build their trust with the team again.
4. The team retaliates
Nobody ever really falls for the fear act. In the beginning, compliance comes from trying to please for fear of rejection or dismissal. The act gets old quick, and the team will stop delivering. This only fuels the fear based ways of this type of leader. It is a vicious cycle.
As you can see, a collaborative leader is much more likely to get greater results than from creating a culture based on fear. It is imperative that as a leader, you develop your stance early on, but be real and authentic.
Have you ever been in an environment created by fear based leadership? If so, what was it like?
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