The Powerful Effects of Demoralizing Leadership

By Todd Liles The Powerful Effects of Demoralizing Leadership
The effects of demoralizing leadership

In my earlier years, I worked for a leader that would “motivate” people by publicly embarrassing them in front of their peers. His approach to “Accountability.”

His intentions were to embarrass the bad behavior out his people and motivate (or shame) them into new behavior.

I would like to tell you that I have never committed this shameful act; but I can’t. We often model the behaviors of our leaders. The good and the bad comes with any apprenticeship. And as the old saying goes,

“More is Caught Than Taught.”

I would also like to tell you that the act of motivation through public shame was 100% ineffective, and it never works. Sorry. The bad news is that public shaming does work.  As demoralizing as the approach is, it will actually work on some people some of the time.

And that’s the problem. This approach produces a false sense of accomplishment in the leader that uses it. The momentary burst of output that is motivated by fear enforces the false belief of effectiveness. So, the leader uses this approach again and again.

I’ve got news for the leaders that use this approach of leadership; you are sinking your own ship. Here’s why:

The Type of People Demoralization Will Work On

  1. Low Self-esteem, Low Producers. This approach will work on folks with low self-esteem. They will take your beating because they think they deserve it. They will work harder to make you happy. That extra effort may produce more output, but it won’t last. They will burn out emotionally and physically.
  2. Other Demoralizers. This approach will work with other bullies in your company. They will laugh and giggle, and help you in the act of shame. They will also leave you for greener grass.

The Type of People That WON’T TAKE IT!

  1. Confident Producers. This approach will fail with the producers. They will not take your abuse as leadership. They will take their skills, and leave to work for a leader who has more control.
  2. Good Managers. Your good managers will leave you and move on if you are a demoralizer. And, your producers are very likely to follow.

If you use demoralization as a leadership tool, then that will become part of your culture.

Your Motivation Style Creates Your Culture

Culture starts with the leader and moves into the people that stay in your business. A motivated cultural of high producers is built around hard work, enhanced skill training, and great leadership.

Related: The 7 Toxic Behaviors Killing Your Bottom Line

As a leader, you have the power to choose your motivation style and build the type of company you desire.

Question: What have you learned from a Good or Bad Leader?

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If you want to learn more about leadership and management check out the Manager Series Classroom Training

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