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Working Under Fear

August 21, 2009

When I was younger… I was just that, young. At times in life being young equals being dumb, hence the term “young and dumb.”

When I was young and dumb I got fired for the very first time.

When I was young I worked at Dairy Queen, yes I can still do the “Q” at the top of a large vanilla cone. My boss, his name was… well that really doesn’t matter now does it?

He ran his Dairy Queen, and everyone knew it. We all feared seeing him pull into the parking lot. I look back now and see that apparently he was a good leader (very sarcastic tone), because you see, he was productive. He knew how to get things done, he knew how to pull things off… he knew how to make the machine run.

He thought that he was a nice guy and that everyone liked him. He would walk around with a smile on his face, he would act like he knew you and the customers personally. He didn’t. He only cared about himself and making money.

I was thinking about this the other day when I had (what I think was) a moment of genius. There is a leadership principle to be learned here.

Leaders lead by encouraging or by striking fear into their followers hearts. And like my boss it is possible to look like a nice guy and still strike fear into your employees and followers.

If you lead by encouraging people won’t leave you. When things go bad it takes a long time for things to unravel completely. People want to work it out. The turnover rate for volunteers is minimal. In general people want to help you out.

If you lead by striking fear into peoples hearts and minds then people will leave you. When things go bad, they go bad fast. Want to know you lead out of fear? How many leaders and followers have you lost in the past 6 months to a year? If you lost a bunch, then you might not be encouraging enough.

So there you have it folks a leadership lesson from Dairy Queen.

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