The approach of today’s companies and their executives to a thesis from Machiavelli that is still valid today; is it better to be loved than feared, or is it the opposite?
Machiavelli’s self-answer of “People cannot afford to hurt a feared one more than a loved one…” and the question of this answer “Is it better to be loved than feared, or is it the opposite?” are still open for debate and on the front burner which he wrote on his book “The Prince” read by both those who were ruled and those who ruled for more than 500 years and which was characterized as “the devil’s book” by some and was only able to be published in 1532, five years after the death of the writer and 19 years after its completion even though it was written in 1513, and was latter banned again.
Even though the book was directed to the emperors at that time, a similar question awaits to be answered for today’s companies: Should the boss or the manager be loved among their employees, or should they prefer to build fear? As Machiavelli suggested, both of these would be better. But for this question that just cannot accept that as possible and can only be answered by options, the answer is still preferred to be building fear by many bosses and managers if both of them are not possible.
Without a doubt; what the writer meant with fear at that time, also considering that the book was directed to emperors, was the “fear of life.” Today, the successive economic crises, the employment problem and the fear of job loss that occurs with the trigger of crises or their usage by the companies are among the top intimidation methods used by the managers in order to have the employees perform better. Sometimes they apply these directly, but sometimes they “hector about it.”
In short, being feared is the easiest of these conditions. What needs to be done in order to be loved is really complicated and is no doubt a specialty and the topic of a genius different article.
Managers/Executives’ thought of getting things done with fear will affect the junior officers related to them and it will either cause them to embrace such behavior or it will leave them no other choice but to embrace it. It should be mentioned that the writer draws a line of avoiding being hated to his thesis related to being feared; according to him the executive should be feared, but should avoid being hated.
But is it possible to achieve productivity and success by intimidating the employees at today’s companies? The companies of today need difference making employees in order to achieve success in the fields of competition, change and keeping up with innovations. However, by nature, human instinctively tries to survive when faced with fear. All they do and their reactions are nothing but attempts to stay alive. Therefore, it is very hard to expect an innovative approach or occupation from a person who feels fear.
Even though the employees who are attached to the authority that the best thing they will ever do is to only perform their duties and who only function with fear are the kind of employees that the princes/emperors at the time of the writing of the book and nowadays the executives who do not want any competition and are trying to retain their position would prefer, the executives who want to make a difference need way better people than such employees.
Especially in the business lines that rely on the fields of informatics, advertising and arts which nowadays enquire real creativity, triggering an employee with fear and hoping that they will be successful is just a dream.
Whether if there is a need for a man of duty for certain duties at some companies, if they too can only be disciplined by fear and if they should perform their duties this way is a whole different matter of debate.
In short, being feared is simple. At companies of today, encouraging (motivating) the employees solely by fear and expecting them to achieve great things is nothing but a dream. The real question Is this: What are the ways of earning love and what should the executives who want to achieve this do?