In the book, The Prince, Nicolo Machiavelli penned the thought (paraphrased here), that it is best if you can have someone love you and fear you, but if you have to settle for one, it is better that they should fear you. Now while this sentiment had to deal largely with governed subjects long ago, so many people today have captured the thinking of it and applied it more broadly.
If we remove the subjugation aspect of the thinking, we are left considering the sentiment from the perspective of someone who is in charge. In corporate America, there are managers and direct reports. You serve at the pleasure of your supervisor. Hopefully, you have a good relationship built on healthy and mutual respect, but if you don’t, then likely you feel that fear is the more common course for the day.
When, in the corporate settings, harsher words are used, there is always an element of or else that girds those thoughts; because if you aren’t able to perform – whatever that means – then your livelihood will suffer. After all, you could be the individual that your manager says has decided to tender his/her resignation and move on – all while never willingly submitting your resignation in a decision to move on.
So what’s the point of this post? It’s not for your boss. It’s for you. What type of leader will you be? Will you provide a vision, set a direction, encourage and motivate your team? Or will you be prone to demanding an outcome with harsh “if not, then” language for your subjugated employees?
You can’t do both, and they both come at a price. Which are you willing to do today?