Are Managers Better Loved or Feared?
Well, it depends what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve it.
Machiavelli considered that while it was best to be both loved and feared, it was difficult to combine the two. As such, he concluded, it was better to be feared.
But forthcoming research from Stanford’s Nir Halevy and colleagues shows that it isn’t quite as simple as this. When we do things that benefit our in-group, we are more loved. When we do things that disadvantage our out-group, we are more feared.
But whether we are loved or feared has consequences. If we’re loved, we’re more likely to be voted in as leader and put in charge. If we’re feared, people are more likely to be submissive to us, and to give up their resources for our control.
If Machiavelli were reading this, he might now decide that it is better first to be loved (so you are put in charge), and then to be feared (so you stay in charge).
Of course, this is just one perspective on what it takes to be a manager. Some people manage through being loved, others through being feared. And very, very rarely, exceptional people are able to combine the two – think Steve Jobs, and read Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography if you’d like to know more.
For most of us, though, we’ll do far better if we manage by using our strengths.
Are there certain strengths that make you a better manager? This is a question we’re trying to answer. You can help us find out, by sharing 10 minutes of your time and completing our Ideal Manager Survey.
Thank you – we’ll love you for it!
With best wishes,
Alex Linley & the Capp Team
Halevy, N. Chou, E. Y., Cohen, T. R., & Livingston, R. W. (in press). Status conferral in intergroup
social dilemmas: Behavioral antecedents and consequences of prestige and dominance. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology.