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Leaders Who Create Fear-Based Organizations are Doomed To Fail, Here's Why



David just escaped from a full-time job in a toxic work environment where the best employees quit, and the worst people got promoted to management jobs. The people with all the ideas were shunned and pushed aside; they soon left the organization while the tush-kissers with no plans got promoted.

The harder David worked, the worse he got treated.


When a completely unqualified person got promoted to be his manager because that manager had a personal relationship with one of the VPs, that was the last straw; David resign. It was hard for him to leave the company, he worked so hard for, but the minute he was out of there, he felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.


I read this story from Liz Ryan’s article in Forbes and it is so reminiscent of so many people experiences in many organizations all over the world. Great employees, who came into the organization with an inspired heart and a spark in their eyes ready to make a difference, got uninspired and demotivated when they soon realized this is not the right environment for anyone to work.


Fear Base Management


It’s quite amazing that many people in management and leadership position will resonate to creating an environment of fear to get their people to work. I don’t understand it; all the research in the world have proven that fear base leadership or management does not work, it may in the short term but the quality of work will be average at best and but it is never sustainable in the long run.

According to Liz Ryan, what is a fearful manager’s greatest fear? It’s not that the business might fail; no, their greatest fear is that somebody working near them might challenge them. A fearful manager ego is stronger than the fear of business failure.


Some People Are Just Not Ready To Lead




It is the rite of passage in most organizations, according to Jim Harter, Gallup’s Chief Scientist to promote someone base on their performance on the job. So if you are very good at sales, or accounting, or any number of specialties–and stay around a long time, the next step in your progression is to be promoted to manager.


But the talents that make a person successful in a previous, non-management role are rarely the same ones that will make them excel as a manager or as a leader. Research shows that new managers are usually promoted without the skills needed to be a good manager or leader and 47% of companies do not have a new supervisor training program in place to help them bridge the gap according to Ken Blanchard.


Sadly, when companies promote people into a management position and do not provide the necessary training, they end up with a host of bosses and few leaders. According to Liz, lousy employees get promoted to lofty positions in fear-based organizations because they are non-threatening to the leaders. Non-threatening is the best thing you can be in a toxic environment. It’s the principal job requirement.


Pseudo – Leader


You have to be very careful about the people who call themselves a leader, especially the ones with Pseudo - Leadership tendencies. Many of these people are only concerned about their well being, nothing else. Fearful employees stick around because they get so institutionalize; they believe every company has the same kind of management or culture. For these employees it’s typical for a manager and their employees to engage in gossip, typical for their manager to shout at their staff, normal to work in a constant state of fear and to routinely hide from their manager if something goes wrong.


Yes, hide, you will not believe the kind of environment some people have to endure. It’s hard for some of these employees to see their fear when they are in the middle of it according to Liz, but when you’re out of that toxic environment, you soon realize how toxic that environment was and how much the management of the organization contributed to the creation of that environment.

Fear has no place in management and leadership, absolutely none; if anyone uses fear as a strategy to get their people to work, that person has no place managing and leading anyone; None! Fear dis-empowers and turns employees’ attention inward instead of outward according to Tom Flick. Staff members who are led by fear go into survival mode.


They are no longer interested in the company’s outcome, the quality of the product or service, or the customer experience. Instead, they’re concerned with keeping their jobs and not stepping on toes. The effects of fear-based tactics can negatively impact employee engagement, the customer experience, and even brand reputation according to Rose Krivich. When employees are stressed and fearful, this dissatisfaction can potentially seep into conversations with clients, and their frustrations with their’ organization’s culture may be voiced word of mouth or via the internet, serving as a red flag to potential candidates.


Never settle for a toxic, fear-based organization; it’s not good for your professional development, your health, and your energy; there are many options out there, take advantage of all because you deserve better.


About Gifford Thomas





Gifford is the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible, the founder of Leadership First, a member of Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and a leadership consultant with GLG. Follow our 120,000 + community of leaders on LinkedIn and for a copy of my book, you can follow this LINK to become a leader who can inspire their team to believe in the impossible.

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