Rule by Fear


There’s an interesting article available at HBR on Managerial Tyranny. CEOs and executives since long have been utilizing this approach to achieve spectacular growth rates. This is even more true when the manager is expected to show quarter on quarter results. Out goes the nice guy approach and in comes the tyrant – a whip in one hand and measurable metrics in the other.

The Rule by Fear has been used in popular firms … everybody praises Steve Jobs on his design sense, but how many of them would advocate his iron fist approach during the hey days of Apple? Did you forget Jack Welch … he wasn’t called Neutron Jack without any reason.

So when should one crack the whip? Well, if your team is aware of the end outcomes and shares your desires to reach those outcomes. Then the means of cracking the whip and acting the tyrant is justified … until those goals are achieved.

Personally, I think that this approach can only be used to achieve results in the short term. Work culture in India at least is still dependant a lot on personal equations. If the team does not share the passion, then tyranny could be the main reason why they will leave the firm – this brings to mind the quote

You do not leave the job, you leave your boss

I wonder if this can be made sustainable?