07 November 2005

Leaders, fear and anger

I wonder how many leaders think, that their emotions are useful instruments. And how many focus on their emotions and use them to assess a situation. I wonder how many leaders are aware, that two emotions should never be left unknown and unheeded. I mean anger and fear.
Neither of these two emotions should be allowed to run free or even sneak around in the leaders emotional arsenal.
When one of these two emotions appears, a leader should be aware of it and understand what it has to tell.
Fear is probably the worst advisor a leader can have, if it is left to do what it wants: run. By the way, anger is not much better at advising, as anger only wants to fight and so brings the leader in perilous situations.

Mankind had found several cultural solutions to cope with these two emotions. Some of those solutions are:
  • suppression
  • denial
  • freedom to act
  • limit to certain members of the group
  • manage
  • control
  • make rules for use

Organizations also have their way of coping with these two emotions, fear and anger. Some forbid employees to be afraid or show anger when inside the walls of the organization. However, when they leave the building, both emotions can be used the way best seen fit. An example are aggressive sales organizations. The behavior of those organizations led to the government making laws to protect citizens against them.

The government itself is off course an organization itself. The government is even an organization, that uses fear and anger as a means to achieve its goals. Most rules nowadays are based on the fact that people can be scared into doing what you want them to do. You could say, that the government creates anger in a controlled manner. It does so through laws, rules and regulations in which citizens are told what to do or what they are allowed to do or not to do. And it makes it clear that sanctions are available for those who break the law or do not follow by the letter.

Experts, mostly psychologists, often propose the use of rewards for proper behavior instead of punishment as a better way of achieving the wanted goals. The problems arise as one tries to write down such a reward system in laws and regulations. It seems that paper rules only are capable of regulating anger and fear.

This leaves us with the question: how can a leader use fear and anger to his organizations benefit without having to use paper to write down the rules?

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