Following on from a recent blog about the benefits of acknowledging weakness , a blind alley that individuals, managers and organisations need to be aware of is when fear is confused for respect.
Actually, such confusion should never arise as they are so completely different, but alas it is all too common. Fear, if unchecked, can create and spread a sense of malaise within a corporate body that can, at best, impede growth and at worst will wreak havoc within the entire structure of an organisation. Pretty soon, management and staff can find themselves operating in the blind: a culture of fear.
HARD TIMES, TOUGH CALLS
In recent times, many companies and organisations, large and small, have found themselves in a position when difficult decisions needed to be taken in order to ensure survival and growth (albeit modest). Such measures impact in a very personal way on the lives of individuals be it restructuring, cost savings, maximising on synergies etc. That is not in question here – a good entrepreneur at some point will have to take decisions that require a strong stomach – they are there to lead, even in the teeth of the storm.
FEAR IS NOT FAST TRACK RESPECT
Managing through fearful times is not the same as using that fear as a tool of management. That is a poor substitute for leadership, in fact, it indicates a lack of any leadership at all. If management by fear becomes a de facto policy, we should ask on which planet would a negative, vulnerable and scared workforce operate better than one that is positively motivated, focused and inspired – recession or no?
A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts
WHEN THE TIDE TURNS
When the ethos of excess pressure and fear (aka bullying) exists then this is a sign that troubled times lie ahead – and such a culture will begin to display structural flaws most particularly when an economy begins to emerge from recession:
An organisation’s strongest and most able people will be gone at the earliest opportunity (if it has not already happened) – with predictable results
The chances of enticing high achievers will be jeopardised. How can a business take full advantage of increased opportunities when it’s most able people work for the competition?
Leadership through fear is like ‘one club golf‘ and has no inbuilt flexibility and a very limited life span.
Shaking off the effects of a fear culture takes time and radical change – but since when did the world of business and opportunity proceed at a leisurely pace?
If fear runs through an organisation there is very little that can be done without a radical and imaginative approach from the executive. This has to come from the top and starts with the core values of the boardroom. A good executive can lead it’s people through the toughest times but once opportunities become more plentiful, the whole corporation will come into its own.
In the depth of winter
I finally learned that there was in me
an invincible summer
ALBERT CAMUS, French Nobel Prize winning writer
In the next blog we shall look closely at how individual managers, regardless of the scale of their responsibilities, can maintain awareness of their performance and in doing so ensure that their people are lead and not pushed.