Fear-Based Leadership

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Successful leaders who practice fear-based leadership are common, according to Bryant.

Henry Ford’s employees lived in fear of losing their jobs and knew they had been fired when they arrived for work to an empty office or destroyed furniture. The dotcom stock market crash of the 2000s took down the greedy and fear-based leadership of once-invincible companies like Enron and WorldCom. Today, “Boss-Zillas” who use fear to intimidate their employees are not alone; a large survey concluded that 37 percent of American workers report being bullied at work. A 2000 survey reported persistent psychological abuse at work. Bosses are viewed as the main problem.

Fear based leadership shares the following tactics:

  • Using aggressive language and eye contact
  • Criticizing unfairly
  • Blaming without offering reasonable recourse
  • Applying rules inconsistently
  • Stealing credit
  • Making unreasonable demands
  • Issuing threats, insults, and accusations
  • Denying accomplishments
  • Excluding others from opportunities
  • Assigning pointless tasks
  • Personalizing problems
  • Breaching confidentiality
  • Spreading rumors
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