Fear verses Respect

I awakened this morning with leadership thoughts running through my mind and two points in particular jumped out: fear verses respect. As a result I pose this question…

Do you achieve true success by imparting fear to those you are called to lead or should you take the approach of being respected?

I remember growing up and being the typical inquisitive child. I was very bold and lacked what my mother constantly reminded me of as: T-A-C-T. That pretty much meant I always said the first thing that came to mind and no one ever left my presence questioning what I thought about any subject. Not only that, but I questioned everything. I always wanted to know the WHY.

– WHY can’t I eat more candy?

– WHY do we do things this way?

– Why? Why? WHY?!

What I learned however, was the combination of those traits were frowned upon in my culture, so I was trained to think before I spoke and to not question the way things were done, but to just do what I was told. These life lessons were enforced at home, confirmed in school and in church. It seemed as though no adult knew what it was like being a kid! I questioned things not because I was rebellious, but curious. I wanted to understand the reason we did things, how we operate, why we operate in that manner, etc.

However, instead of receiving answers to my many questions, I typically heard statements that I still overhear parents saying today…

– “Because I said so.”

– “Do as you’re told.”

– “Or if you don’t, I’m going to whoop you”

You may have been told the same thing. Honestly, I think we may all even be guilty of saying it at least once as well! 🙂

Here’s the problem with those statements. Do they breed fear or respect into the person it’s directed at? Think about it.

I still encounter this type of leadership as an adult. While I’ve learned to refine my thought process. I am still bold,and probably even more inquisitive now. Yet, in most work environments, some churches and other places, I still feel like we’re acting out the role of the parent warning their child to do as they say. Don’t get me wrong, I can relate to situations and times when immediate obedience without an entire dissertation is absolutely necessary. My question however, is do we make that the rule, or the exception? I guess that depends on how you define leadership.

Leadership defined (my definition) – someone who inspires, guides and motivates others to fulfill a specific purpose or goal.

Based on this definition, I’m concerned that we as leaders are failing in our basic duties to inspire others to fulfill long-term goals. Fear and respect both act as motivators, yielding results, however only respect gets you long-term results.This is what I interpret as the basic results of using fear or respect…

FEAR

  • yields short-term cooperation
  • causes a lack of confidence
  • diminishes respect

RESPECT

  • causes long-term cooperation
  • mutually builds confidence in the relationship
  • produces loyalty

When I look at life and the areas I’m called to lead in terms of long-term success and legacy, I’m convinced that I would much rather act in patience and diligently build relationships (mother/daughter, husband/wife, friendships, coworkers, etc) in a manner that breeds mutual respect. That means, I must use tact in guarding my tongue from destroying others. Be patient and proficient in communicating the WHY behind what I do. And in every situation, to remember that trust is built over time, nourished by love and confirmed by respect.

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