"Fear is not a management strategy."

-Public Servant from Washington State in a research interview


Leaders and teams have a lot in common. They want to make a difference and do good work. But sometimes we aren't sure what to do when faced with challenges and mounting pressure to perform at all costs. 

Both leaders and teams may unwisely resort to negative, fear-based tactics like bullying, intimidation, or humiliation to induce performance. 

The thing about fear is this: It doesn't foster sustainable performance or healthy organizations. Employees tell us it doesn't work. Neuro-scientists tell us it doesn't work. Our own common sense tells us it doesn't work. Instead, safety emanating from positive, love-based actions rooted in affiliation, respect, and care foster better performance. 

Together leaders and teams can be extraordinary if they embrace this more human way of working. People can bring their very best. Innovation can be the norm. Challenges can be faced head on. Customers can be well served.  

To do this, we all must grapple with questions like:

  • What can I personally do from my role to decrease fear?

  • What is the difference between compliance and responsibility?

  • How can my team be more human-centered?

  • How do we foster safety through love, care, and belonging when team members have very different preferences for exactly what these things look like?

  • How do we handle poor performance?

In the State of Washington we are  working to answer those questions. The growing Human Workplace community is also exploring how leaders and teams answer these kinds of questions and more. Together we are discovering how to build a truly human-centered workplace that delivers exceptional results. Be in touch if you'd like to know more at renee.smith@gov.wa.gov.