Do women lead by fear? I don’t think so. Should they? I don’t know. In my experience many women, in many ages and phases of life, parenting, leading, following, volunteering, partnering are doing what they’re doing by love not fear. Here’s a quote from a Harvard Business Review article:
Five hundred years ago, Niccolò Machiavelli posed the question of whether it is better for a leader to be loved or feared, concluding that if you can’t be both (and few people can), being feared is more effective. While the complexities of human nature resist definition in such stark terms—behaviors lie along a continuum—the question of fear versus love has been a fundamental one for leaders throughout history.
I’ve known many men who have led (some very effectively) through fear and only one women who attempted to do so, not effectively at all. Why not? She was not admirable enough or in control of adequate punishment assets to be feared.
Still, this article in HBR did get me thinking about Leaning In and wondering if women have feared leaning in because they fear being seen as fearful? I can’t think of a time or situation in my life when I decided that creating fear of me in a client, a partner, a child, or team member was useful. How about you?
I do know that a loving approach can work well in many personal and work situations BUT ONLY IF you are not “needy” for love and approval. What’s your experience leading and/or being led by love or fear ?