Fear as a Motivator | Does it Work vs. a Positive Outcome Focus?

Fear can sometimes be a great motivator, but it can often be the great paralyzer.

Fear as a motivator

I recently wrote about fear-based leadership as being one of the three greatest downfalls of a leader. I received comments like this:

One thing I have seen a lot, and have experience with as well, is having the fear of losing your job hanging over your head. Leaders falsely think that it motivates people, but that kind of fear just paralyzes them.

I agree with that statement. Most leaders mistakenly think fear is an effective way to motivate people, and it can be. But only occasionally and only for the short-term. Frequent and long-term fear does paralyze people and nine times out of ten, it leads to the exact opposite of the desired result.

The 3 Most Common Downfalls of Leaders | Fear-Based, Ego, Money

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Leaders usually fail for three reasons.

Watching the downfall of a leader is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Living it, as I have, is even worse.

If you have failed as a leader, read this as a reminder of why and learn from it anew. If you are a successful leader, read this as a warning. If you want to be a leader someday, let this be a call to rise above these typical downfalls and lead with unfailing character and principles.

Richard Nixon - Downfall of a Leader

In middle school, I learned the concept of transitive relationship. If A = B and B = C, then A = C.

Leaders are people. People fail. Therefore, leaders fail. Great leaders fail a lot.

But great leaders also avoid these three common downfalls which often lead to fatal failure, the types that end careers, destroy relationships, and are eventually studied by others as examples of how not to lead.