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Being Scared Isn’t Being Motivated

As motivational techniques go, fear is highly overrated. And yet, it’s a trap most people have fallen into at one time or another. We’ve seen parents, managers, even entire governments try the “if you are frightened enough of the consequences you’ll be motivated to do the right thing” trap. I once sat on a discussion panel with a consultant who told the audience that she thought the number one value she she provided to her clients was to keep the employees on their toes and “put a little fear into them”. I told the audience I thought the number one value I provided was to be a resource for the employees to make sure they developed competence and confidence and never had to be afraid of failure. You can imagine how disheartening it was to realize that a large percentage of the managers and employers in the room thought that hiring HER would make their lives easier. I was, therefore, pretty disappointed in myself when I recently commented to a client that I felt some of the “dis sync” she was having with her ops manager was that this manager was “more afraid of the team than she is of her boss.” Right diagnosis, WRONG terminology. My bad. And I’m happy to say that when my client asked “so what do I do to make her scared of me?” she was (mostly) kidding. Neither of us would want anyone on her team to be afraid of anything because fear of consequences doesn’t motivate anyone to do anything more than just enough to avoid the consequences. And that was exactly...