The Weekend Muse

Random thoughts from my daily experiences

Fear… or Respect?

Posted by Shrini on October 31, 2009

How does one gain respect? Of course, it through demonstrated Capability, Strength of Character, their Good deeds, ability to Motivate, and a host of other characteristics – universally acknowledged or recognized by the people working around the individual. The question is – does the ability to instill fear, automatically generate respect?

For instance, take Bob, a Manager in a BPO, who is seen as a typical “Type A” personality – hugely impatient for results, aggression, public bouts of anger directed towards team-members who fail him, contempt for mediocrity and at times, publicly humiliate people who fail to live up to his high standards of performance. It is no surprise then, to see the team cover in his presence, and defer to his will, under most circumstances. Such managers, it is said, do not do too well for themselves in the long run and are the prime contributors to the attrition statistics of an organization.

Fear, in the corporate world, can manifest in many ways. While it may mean an extreme case of losing one’s job, it also includes fear of a bad appraisal, fear of missed opportunities/recognition or the fear of being shouted at in public.

Which leads us to the question – is fear really so undesirable? Would you really care about your boss if you believed he was incapable of harming you in any manner? How many times have we not seen individuals “take on” their superiors in public forums, in well “calculated moves” to establish themselves in the pecking order? I can’t imagine anyone attempting such hara-kiri with a ferocious boss! If you were not tracking your teams’ deliverables, do you think they would really work towards maximizing productivity and improving quality – on their own?!

It therefore transpires that… Respect exists in the domain of Fear! An employee who fears the Boss or losing the job that he/she holds, is seen to be more driven at work and aligned to the Organization (read… the Manager).

I know most of my readers would recoil at the thought of “Attila the Hun” as the next team leader… well I would not want to report to him either! But then… what’s the harm in theorizing a bit over the weekend… as long as my boss doesn’t get to read this?


3 Responses to “Fear… or Respect?”

  1. Anonymous said

    i think fear alone, is not a long-term instrument for success. it might not get one too far. i think the key here is to demonstrate leadership and stand up for your team, so they feel protected and empowered in your presence. You must be seen as a confident and secure manager who doesnt think twice to empower his team members and appreciate their work in public. Whereas, personally and deep inside, you should be wary of the "scheming" characters around you and your team, and know when and how to apply pressure. You cannot afford to shy away from a deep 'n dirty fight.

  2. Hari Mohan said

    ShriniCongrats on the blog! I liked the content – thought provoking and well written. I will read it regularly. Only please make it easier to post comments. My ideas on the leadership angle. I think you get a manager can get about 10-20% more from the team member than he normally does with fear as the motivator. But with respect and total empowerment you can get complete involvement of the person in the job which normally far exceeds the call of duty. Apart from achieving results, you also get other benefits such as long term loyalty, empowered personnel and a higher level of focus in the team.With a gun on the head you are keen to say or do what the guy wants you to – and survive. But if an inspiring leader gets you on the job you strecth yourself to find the best solution. There is a difference there in the end result. And for the manager, it is less work.I am dwelling on these issues in the workshops that I have begun doing these days called 'Recognisng Excellence Within'. There are modules of team building and leadership with actual cricket games. I am pretty kicked with those.More on this later when we meet. But somewhere in 'The Men Within' the Coach quotes Lao Tsu to the captain and says something to the effect that '..a good leader is one when his people complete the job succesfully and say "we did it"'. Total empowerment, complete involvement by the team and the leader merely guides them along… Good blog, though provoking. My two pence for whatever its worth…Keep goingHari

  3. Shrini said

    Thanks for taking time out and reverting with your views. I completely agree with the empowerment aspect. Actually, I had intended it to be on a fairly superficial and light note.Also, I was curious to see the reaction to a rather unorthodox thought. There are other aspects to successful Leadership – some of which are more important, like empowerment (like you said), mentoring, vision and ability to communicate it clearly – essentially establishing credibility. Then there are environmental factors which either support or work against a leader, like the situation in the job market, condition of the organizations’ financial health, personal circumstances surrounding the team members .

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