One of my favorite scenes in the movie “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is when Blondie (Clint Eastwood’s character) tells Tuco (Eli Wallach) the famous line: “There are two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.”
There is another saying when it comes to “making things happen” in the business world. There are two kinds of leaders in this world, my friend. Those that manage by fear, and those that lead with inspiration. This is not just a clever play on the words “manage” and “lead”, the distinction is intentional.
I have seen many “so-called” leaders use fear as the primary source of motivation. In fact, I would argue that most people that are in the position of leading people, or teams, deploy one of these two tactics on a regular basis. Which one used depends on the situation, the people involved, the level of urgency, etc…
There are times when you must “load the gun” and direct your team to dig. They must dig their way out of a problem or situation. They must pick up the proverbial shovel and “make it happen.” This is a fact. The buck must stop somewhere, and sometimes as a leader you have neither the time nor energy to waste debating what needs to happen. So they must dig.
But this does not work long term. True leadership is delivered through inspiration. The kind of inspiration where your team is fully committed to achieving a result. Where no penalty or reward is needed, they want to “make it happen.” They feel like they let you down if they fail. That is leadership through inspiration.
Come on, admit it, we have all used fear to manage results. Either that, or I guarantee, almost everyone has been managed by fear. Some penalty for not meeting a deadline. Some stick that was used to motivate you into getting things done. I know, we’ve all seen it. But honestly, did that really inspire you to get things done?
I have a simple rule for you to follow. Think about your leadership style in these terms. When you are leading your team, what is your motivation tactic? Do you want your team inspired to get out of bed each morning because they know what they will accomplish – or up all night because of the fear of what may happen if they don’t?
Fear is a tactic. Inspiration is a strategy. One is used to manage your teams through difficult times. The other is used to accomplish things that others only talk about. The choice is yours when you decide on your leadership style. Just remember that if you choose fear, eventually your team will get tired of digging, my friend.
My name is Mark Behl. My passion is leadership. I share ideas, not lectures. If you would like to share an idea with me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you come back for future posts.