Should Managers Be Feared Or Loved?

All employees want great managers, yet few enjoy that luxury. But what really makes a great manager? Some say it’s more effective to use fear tactics to get results. Others argue that a positive can-do management style is best for productivity. So what’s the answer?

“Monster Managers”

We probably have all had managers at some point in our careers who we thought were real jerks, albeit for different reasons. Have you ever had a manager that would make a great Army drill sergeant or drug lord? You know, the kind that:

  • Micromanages your work assignments and watches the clock,
  • Towers over your shoulder barking orders as you sweat it out,
  • Gets angry often and lets staff know it. They yell. They Curse. They finger point. Some even hurl phones against the wall or at staff,
  • Rigidly adheres to the organization’s byzantine bureaucratic culture, even at the cost of lost productivity,
  • Plays favorites with staff or displays nepotism, and/or
  • Is an arrogant “backstabber” and two-faced.

These are managers who rule by the sword and wear authority on their sleeves. They make you cringe or hide under the desk when they approach. The result: employees carry out their work with a sense of fear, loathing and even paranoia. These employees feel as if they can’t make any mistakes or do anything wrong – lest the monster manager eats them alive.

Yes, these monster managers may get results because they are feared. But are they getting the best results possible in the most effective and efficient way?

Yes, these monster managers may get results because they are feared. But are they getting the best results possible in the most effective and efficient way? Do monster managers get the most productivity out of staff? Is this a good management and leadership approach?

“Moses Managers”

On the other side, perhaps you’re one of the chosen ones and lucky to have – or have had – a manager like the biblical figure Moses. A manager who exudes leadership and respect knows how to motivate the team, creates a positive work culture for all employees, and works “miracles” in crisis situations. This type of manager:

  • Is always positive, energetic and upbeat,
  • Is quick to praise staff and point out what worked well,
  • Is always professional in appearance and mannerisms,
  • Shows genuine appreciation to staff and makes all employees feel like they have an important role on the team,
  • Is humble, modest and quick to give credit to others,
  • Recognizes and rewards staff for exemplary work, and/or
  • Leverages workplace flexibility, such as telework or a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), to enhance your work/life balance — which has also been shown to increase employee productivity, accountability, and organizational loyalty.

This type of manager is often “loved” not loathed. The result: employees are engaged, have high-morale and go the extra mile when needed. These employees view their manager as a true leader whom they look up to, admire, respect, and want to work hard for without prodding. Employees truly trust this type of manager.

My Take

Fortunately, I’ve been lucky to have a “Moses Manager” in recent years. However, I’ve had “Monster Managers” before and know firsthand how they can make an employee’s work-life miserable — to the detriment of the office and organization. Thus I think the management and leadership approach of being “loved” rather than feared is best if one must choose between the two different styles. This is because the “Moses Manager” often achieves exemplary bottom-line results by maximizing employee productivity while maintaining high staff morale and contributing to a healthy work environment. But that’s just me.

What about you?

  • What’s your answer, story or experience?
  • If you had a monster manager then how did you deal with it?
  • If you had a manager who was “loved” and led like Moses, did you find any drawbacks or unintended consequences?
David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE