Lead with Care, Not Fear: The Key to Being a Better Leader

There are two types of leadership in a workplace: one by love and the other by fear. Obviously, no manager would go around and confess that “yeah, I lead my team through fear.” In fact, some might not even realize that they’ve been instilling fear in their workers.

The reason why we display such negative behaviour all begins with uncertainty and insecurity. As we’re all aware, the events of the past few months have left many of us feeling tense and on edge. While working remotely is a solution that has become almost commonplace nowadays, managing remotely isn’t. Perhaps it’s the fear of not knowing what your team is doing; the fear of employees leaving, or the fear of losing profit; leaders are projecting that same fear as a management method to lead their team.

Is Fighting Fear with Fear the Right Way?

Sometimes, leading with fear appears to be effective in the short term. A disorganized team, for instance, would benefit from some sort of discipline and monitoring in place. Fear can also create a sense of urgency. So if you’re someone who performs better with pressure, a bit of a push from your manager might actually help you get the work done. But in the long run, this cutthroat approach comes with consequences of its own:

  • Fear can turn into anxiety, distrust, and intimidation. This transformation destroys employee morale and productivity.
  • It kills communication and removes transparency. Your employees will become too afraid to speak up during meetings and will avoid interactions with their leaders. A team without open conversations will ultimately fall apart.
  • It disrupts creativity. Discipline through fear often comes with a set of rules. Rigid structures limit your employees’ abilities to be innovative, which essentially prevents your business from growing.

The Definition of ‘Love’ at Work

Love is something you show toward your family, friends, or even the puppy you just rescued. So to many business leaders, the idea of displaying ‘love’ to your employees may seem ridiculous. But there’s much more to it than just the romantic type of love. In the workplace, it can mean different things:

  • Giving your workers the flexibility and authority to go about their work
  • Providing transparent feedback to help your employees improve and grow
  • Guiding them with fundamental resources to achieve their personal goals
  • Treating them fairly and professionally as mature working adults
  • Empowering your people through mission-driven objectives

Leadership by fear has become all too common in the global workforce – a stereotype that’s almost too normalized that we think it’s acceptable to micromanage and threaten those who work under you. In moments of a crisis, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. But remember, leading with mindfulness and compassion makes you more human, and that essentially makes you a better leader.