Hope and Fear | Assert both to be a better leader

If you're going to be a leader of any kind you must learn to master giving people hope and correcting people with fear. It sounds harsh to intentionally push fear onto somebody but let me explain. No matter how great you think people are and how much you believe all situations can be handled by giving people hope, I'm here to tell you that's not the reality of the human condition. I have found that some people respond well to hope and some people respond well to fear. Here is a couple examples of what I mean: 

Leading with Hope - 

Hopefully you are leading in a situation that allows you to lead with hope, because you can choose your team. You have an employee who is self motivated and wants more for themselves. So your job is to pick achievements and points along their journey and explain to them where they are headed. Such as "if you complete this such and such goal we can pay you more because you'll be more valuable." or "if we reach this milestone as a company it will be a real achievement for all of us," etc. This employee motivates them self, and the fear they conjour up is already in their heads of not achieving and not completing their goals. Essentially you are giving the hope and they are supplying the fear. Not an unhealthy amount of fear, just enough to keep pushing them self forward. This is the ideal situation. 

Correcting with Fear - 

First off, I don't believe in leading with Fear, only using fear as a corrective action.  I believe you should make a team up of mainly Hope influenced people. This is the ideal. However in business and in life you are going to work with people that don't respond to hope. For whatever reason they don't care about achievement, goals, your vision, etc.  In fact, they may have spent much of their life only making positive change when the fear got so deep that the felt forced to change. This is where you come in. If these type of phrases haven't worked for you in the past: 

"If you complete such and such we can afford to pay you more" 

"When you get better at blank we will have a much smoother operation"

"Things will be so much easier once we arrive to blank" 

Try these instead: 

" If you slip on this specific issue again I'm going to be forced to find somebody that can do it"

" If we don't reach this goal we will be forced to drop your position" 

" I believe you can do this better. Don't let that happen again" 

Feels harsh huh? Feels subjective at times too, which makes it hard. Who are you to call out somebody like that? You don't know exactly what they're dealing with, you don't know exactly why they can't achieve. What you do know though is what's capable by a motivated person. Have the guts to make statements and demands of your team. If you don't, your team will slip. Others that are achieving will be dragged down by under-achieving co-workers. There will be a company wide feeling of "if I come up short, nothing will happen," which will do unbelievable long term damage. 


Tim Ferris author of the 4 Hour Work Week has a great quote on this: 

"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have."

Use the correction of fear up to two maybe three times. After a couple firm corrections you are pretty much dealing with a person that has to be micro managed, and it's your job to get that person replaced. If you're going to accomplish great things in business, you can't work with average people. You need great people.