Larry Cipolla
July 12, 2013

As a business leader, is it better to be feared or loved? While Niccolò Machiavelli might tell you that fear is the clear choice—if you cannot be both—that is in fact far from the truth. A company will not have long-term success if its employees are afraid of their managers, supervisors or even CEO.

A recent Harvard Business Review contribution piece explained that today's leaders will often try and emphasize their strength, competence and credentials in the workplace before other factors. This is the exact opposite of what they should do. 

"Leaders who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of eliciting fear, and along with it a host of dysfunctional behaviors," the article said. "Fear can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem solving, and cause employees to get stuck and even disengage."

The news source further explained that fear is a "hot emotion," as it can burn into individual's minds much stronger than other emotions can. Citing research from Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, HBR said that when a manager is already disliked by employees, there is just a one in 2,000 chance he or she will be considered a good leader.

This is where a leadership assessment can come into play. By partnering with CCi Surveys International, companies can develop unique surveys and assessments that apply directly to their leadership teams. Employees can give their feedback into what is working and what can be improved upon.

From there, it is important to work toward implementing positive change that keeps contributors happy and also helps leadership teams become stronger. If employees never see efforts being made to change, or no follow-up occurring after an assessment, they will be less likely to trust their supervisors. And without trust, overall competence will be much more difficult to prove to them.

Every Friday we'll publish leadership topics as they relate to 360 degree feedback.