Is it better to be loved as a leader or feared?

Yep, it’s another Q&A Monday and here’s the Q: “Is it better to be loved as a leader or feared?”
I guess both can be an advantage or a disadvantage. In the long run though I’m sure being loved pays the bigger return.

The downside of being feared as a leader.

When you’re feared, people might do what you ask them to more readily with less push back. They might even try to anticipate what you want and get stuff done ahead of time. But it’s all for the wrong reasons and there’s a lot you miss out on, like
  • challenge – you don’t know everything and sometimes your idea might be the worst one. Having people in your team that are not afraid to speak up and challenge you will make it better.
  • diversity of thought – if everyone only tries to do what makes you happy, you miss out on constructive dissent and new ideas that might propel your department to new heights.
  • belonging – yes, both you and your team members will not feel like they belong, so they might as well go somewhere else when times get tough which brings me to the next point.
  • loyalty – as in remaining open, trustful, giving the benefit of the doubt, sticking together, helping each other out and so on over the long haul. Especially in highly specialised departments where experts are rare you may not wish boost your churn rate by creating an atmosphere of fear.
These are just some examples.

Being loved as a leader.

How about being loved then? Depends on how you achieve it. If being loved is your primary goal and you try to achieve it by people-pleasing, by never having a hard conversation or giving in to every request you’ll create an equally weak and low-respect relationship.
In the long run though and if done right and with patience, this’ll give you a workplace that people want to go to every morning and that you’ll leave energised and fulfilled every day.

Toxic Leadership.

As always, it’s up to you. Just know that using excessive control mechanisms like fear is “toxic leadership” and harms people. And with that it harms the entire organisation. Scientists argue that “Toxic leadership can create a decrease in workplace performance, productivity, and output, as well as its remarkable negative reflections on employees”
Have a great week!
PS: Got a question you’d like me to answer? Email me!