Scary Good Leadership: Are You Feared or Revered?

October 31 is just around the corner, and for many employees, the scariest part of Halloween isn’t the ghouls and ghosts—it’s their leader. Leadership style has a major impact on employees—from their motivation for doing quality work to their decision to stay with the company long term, leaders set the tone for employee engagement. There’s a big difference between leading through fear and leading from being revered. Check out these three areas to see the difference between the two.  

Doing quality work

Feared: Employees don’t want to get yelled at
Revered: Employees don’t want to let you down

The most obvious sign of how employees view their leader is how they are motivated to do quality work for the company. In a fear-based environment, employees complete tasks to avoid the retribution and anger from their employer. Whether out of fear of negative feedback or the possibility of being left off the next project, employees in these environments tend to be burned out, uninspired, and have a lack of creativity.

In a healthy work environment, employees should feel empowered and inspired to produce innovative material and work with inspired passion. When an employee is motivated this way, they feel the strong desire to not let their leader down and work in their role with confidence and integrity.

Giving/receiving criticism

Feared: Leaders nitpick, micromanage, and condescend
Revered: Leaders turn it into a learning opportunity

Constructive feedback is the lifeblood of growing organizations and budding professional relationships. When done correctly, it can be the difference maker in turning seemingly ordinary employees into top talent. But when a supervisor leads with fear, they miss the mark on this opportunity. Fear-based leaders tend to be condescending with their feedback, causing stress and anxiety in their workplace. The negative comments or concerns create an environment where employees walk on eggshells and work with the same attitude. When leaders show care for their employees, giving constructive feedback, the team members tend to want to grow and become better at their craft. They’re able to see the learning opportunity and become better from themselves, their teams, and their leaders.

Volunteering to take on new projects

Feared: Employees don’t want to be seen as not doing enough work
Revered: Employees want to contribute to achieving objectives and overall goals

Work loads change with the ebb and flow of calendar months, high-demand seasons, and other factors. When a season hits and requires an all-hands-on deck approach to task management, employees can rise to the occasion in two ways: through the drive of what’s expected of them or excitement of what’s needed of them. Leaders who are feared tend to get workers who sign up for extra work, not because they feel as though they have a choice, but in fear of being seen as lazy or not working. This type of leadership doesn’t create volunteers; it creates a team of workers who feel “voluntold.”

Inspired workers want to do whatever it takes to help the team and their leader succeed. When leaders are revered, their workers show a sense of loyalty and elation for the chance to help contribute to the overall objectives of the organization. And just like when receiving criticism, they see the extra work as an opportunity for growth. The revered leader also is able to inspire volunteerism within their team because they tend to be the leaders who are leading by example, taking on a larger workload as well.

Do you want to be feared or revered?

This question can be asked in a different way—what type of leader do you want to be? Employees respond better to empathy than fear. Motivate through inspiration not intimidation. You may be scared at just how much better a leader you can be and avoid the nightmares caused by poor leadership.

In what other instances have you seen the difference between being feared or revered? How has positive leadership affected your team’s motivation? Let us know in the comments section below!

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