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Should You Use Fear in Leadership?

From Power Over People review,

As a matter of fact, every high-power individual leverages at least an element of fear.


  • If you have genuine leverage, you can keep people's behaviour in check for what's good for the team and good for you.
    • You can punish value-taking behaviour
  • You have the power to get rid of bad apples.
    • Value-takers need to be gotten rid of as fast as possible
  • You can move faster in the short-term
    • Useful in emergency situations where you have the most information and should be the one making fast decisions
      No time for brainstorming here


  • Too much fear is bad for bringing the best out of people
    • Less creativity, fewer novel ideas
    • People won't do more than expected
    • People may fear stepping up to take initiative
    • Higher group-think
    • You don't transcend the transactional nature of social exchanges
      Paycheck for work for example.
  • More management is required because you are doing the "coercing"
    People following you takes up less time because they help you to fill the "gaps"
  • You may make enemies who want to overthrow your leadership


I don't think fear-based approaches and non-fear-based approaches are antithetical.
I think a balance of both approaches would work best.

As we have been discussing on this website, a pull-based approach is usually better most of the time.
You can the most out of people and transcend the transactional nature of social exchange.

However, sometimes we need to assert fear-based or coercive power.