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7 Reasons Leaders Fail: #3- Managing Through Fear

The business world is tough, and the cost of failure is high. Some leaders develop thick skin that enables them to weather the stresses of competition, but others go too far and begin to use fear and intimidation to govern the workplace.

Bosses who think they’re showing their employees ‘tough love’ often create a toxic work environment.

A 2017 study on abusive behavior on the job showed no scientific evidence that managers who intimidate their workers get better results or performance.

To the contrary, a Gallup poll from the same year found that employees who believe their employers work with them instead of just issuing orders display markedly increased productivity, as well as a decrease in turnover by 27 percent and safety incidents by 40 percent.

This can be particularly noticeable in the produce industry, which manifests a number of unique stresses that can cause leaders to display an iron hand.

“The work is extraordinarily fast-paced, the products are perishable, and production is variable based on a whole host of external factors such as weather,” says Wendy McManus, owner and lead consultant for the firm Connect2Potential.

“But even given these unique characteristics, the leadership challenges are consistent with what I see in every industry.”

When leaders show nothing but authority, their employees often respond accordingly—by keeping quiet about potential problems and doing the bare minimum; when respect is shown, respect is given in return.

This is an excerpt from a feature in the September/October 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.