3 bold facts about current management, fear and its negative influence on innovation


“Fear” definition is simple and straightforward: An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. (Oxford dictionary). Most of the hierarchical managers/leaders genuinely believe that they are modern in their approach and they are not leveraging fear as a toolset to motivate people to reach goals they set for their organizations. Well, let’s examine this hypothesis and see how it influence one of the most critical competencies of today’s organizations, creativity.

People might have very appealing concepts in their minds, and they believe in their ideas, but the reality is what really defines what the ruling concept is. Lets cut the bullshit and get to the bottom line. If someone can hire and fire you, if someone can negatively impact on your basic need for compensation, he is using fear as a way to get your support and cooperation. Period!

Let’s say that management groups understand that hiring and firing people by one person or small group decision create a fear, yes I know, let’s just say. Still, the ability to move you between different roles that are a need for the company, but not necessarily a fit to your needs or skills is also creating fear.

Every one of us has different factors that motivate him. One will be driven by money, one by title, one by his office, parking spot, working hours, etc. if the current management system can use someone’s motivation as negative leverage to get anything that the management system wants to achieve. In reality, the management system is using fear.

I’m not arguing that companies shouldn’t let people go. I’m claiming that using hire and fire as a tactic to intimidate (motivate) people to do something is what management is doing, sometimes without paying attention. When you are a part of a meeting that discusses any behavior and one of the executive mentions “and if not, they can find another place”, most of the people laugh. But everyone understands that there is a threat here that is being used to create compliance. I don’t know how to call it anything else but using fear to get one goal.

Creativity and innovation

Fear will get results, but fear will also install a culture that not being compliance will have dramatic and negative implications for people. Is such a culture will promote creativity and innovation? NO!

Creativity and innovation are the main concerns of companies and executives for quite a long time. Creativity and innovation are crucial for any company success for two main reasons. They are needed to create a new competitive advantage that will increase business odds to grow or, at least, maintain their position in a given market. Innovation and creativity are also needed to enable organizations to respond to crises. It doesn’t matter how good is your crisis plan, and how many times you rehearsed it. When a disaster hits, it will expose you to a new scenario that you never experience before. In such situations, people’s ability to innovate and be creative is essential to respond to the new threat.

Both creativity and innovation required people to take bold and nonconventional approaches. Do you think that people are going to take those risk in an environment that implicitly or explicitly convey a message of fear? Hell, NO!

Innovation is being nonconformist

Many organizations and managers genuinely want to increase creativity and innovation, and they think that they can do it just by asking for more creativity or setting innovation groups. What hard for people to understand is that creativity and innovation required a change in the management system and organization structure. Just a change in those two will take away the fear from the equation. Talking about creativity for two hours and then a day after conveying an implicit threat to the same group of people won’t help any company to reach innovation. On the contrary, it will make innovation harder to get.

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