There’s an age-old question out there: Is it better to be a “nice” leader to get your staff to like you? Or to be tough as nails to inspire respect and hard work? Most people still assume the latter is best.
The traditional paradigm just seems safer: Be firm and a little distant from your employees. The people who work for you should respect you but not feel so familiar with you that they might forget who’s in charge. A little dog-eat-dog, tough-it-out, sink-or-swim culture seems to yield time-tested results and keep people hungry and on their toes. After all, if you’re a leader who seems to care a little too much about your employees, won’t that make you look “soft”? Won’t employees work less hard?
New developments in organizational research are providing some surprising answers to these questions.
“Tough” managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress — and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.
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