Leadership is the art of making people to do what you want them to do. It is a process of influencing others working for the common good and common goals while offering purpose and paths to achieve that. The army defines leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization (Army Leadership, Personnel General, Army Regulation 600-100). There are different approaches to leadership as transactional leadership, transformational leadership, situational leadership, and contingency leadership. Even that all these leadership approaches have similarities and differences they have all incorporated into them fear and/or respect as a mean to achieve goals. Looking at the leader’s side this is his/her personal behavior and the environment that they surrounded with or they faced at the beginning of the career what actually shape their future style of leading. If one leader dealt with fear and pressure from his/her supervisors, it is very likely that they will also treat their subordinates the same way. In the other hand, if the leader was treated with respect and this was what build and shaped his or her base of leadership it is very likely that he will treat his/her subordinates the same way.
Even that there are different theories in the practice there always has been in question whether it is better to be feared or respected. And both of these are used in military leadership and in leadership in non-military organizations. It is very apparent that to some leaders only fear exists as a driving force toward achieving goals. They do not prefer to use other means as motivation for pushing their subordinates. In the other hand, seems that subordinates do not prefer fear to be their driving force. Instead they would like to have such a relationship that would push them to work tirelessly to satisfy their leader, but not fear.
In this paper I am going to explore what does it mean for a leader to be feared or respected and what effect has it in his/her subordinates in particular or to the society in general based on personal experience as a cadet and what I learned and read about leadership. This paper actually is going to come across military leadership and leadership in non-military organizations.
Respect by definition is esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability (www.dictionary.com) respect is acknowledged to be a positive value that people posses. But people are not very conscious of what respect really means and of what significance it is. In most cases respect is perceived to as a judgment or opinion of someone not as a value. Based on my personal experience I can say that for respect to be durable it should be earned. It is important that a person should show respect to himself, to others (people that surround us), and try to earn the deserved respect. Since respect is viewed as a perspective for relationship, people decide whether it is achieved as a commitment for a successful relationship between people or whether it is part of our culture.
For creating a world with collaboration and mutual respect we have to build a culture with worldwide respect and transmit our commitments toward others as respectable human beings. The basis for achieving respect in the leader-subordinate aspect is having satisfactory interactions with others. If there is a respectful environment there are possibilities for sharing vision, trust, mission, and there will be stronger teams within the organization to achieve common goals. A quote by Mark Clement says that leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who premise more that they can deliver. This shows that the influence of a leader is largely increased when he or she has the respect of the subordinates and through this they can achieve what is thought to be unachievable paving the road to success.
But expecting to reach all the goals with only the respect of the subordinates might have shortcomings as well. Subordinates can be of a level not mature enough to understand what mutual respect means and this may turn against the leader. Also the leader might not make a realistic evaluation of the subordinates and as a result the reliance on the respect might end in catastrophe. Machiavelli in his book Prince gives several reasons why a leader should not rely on people’s respect because they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children. As is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you (Prince, 79). This actually tells that a leader must much more rely in his/her own forces and make a proper evaluation of the readiness of his/her subordinates in order to not have a catastrophic end.
Among the very first things taught in military academies is respect. This is also taught to all soldiers. The very difference is that leaders have to know to win respect for themselves and for the others with whom they work and to create a respectful environment. Even that in militaries a straight chain of command exists there is an apparent need for respect. It is essential having respect for one another because that is actually what makes the military to operate. Having respect means also having trust between each other which essential for performing daily activities and during crisis. Without respect subordinates would always look for ways to escape from their leaders and things would hardly ever be done on time.
There are several ways to earn respect in military. On and the most important one is by living with army values and becoming a role model for people that surround you. Moreover, the higher you go in ranks gives you a higher respect since earning higher ranks is not easily attained. In military when you have the respect of your subordinates it is much easier to empower them and delegate tasks without being reluctant that they will not perform well. Thus, it is worth quoting KPC (Kosovo Protection Corps) Officer’s Manual 103, which states that mutual respect will create a bond between officers and soldiers and it will always be there when tough times appear.
There are certain ways to show that you respect someone. If you always tell the truth in good or bad times it is a sign of respect, if you make promises and keep them it is a sign of respect, and if you treat all your subordinates at the same level it is a sign of respect.
There are many cases in which leaders were respected. This was actually the main driving force of people’s belief on their leaders and their decisions to be implied. Sir Winston Churchill was one of the most respected leaders in history. He led United Kingdom during the most difficult times. He had many cases when he had to make tough decisions that were not very popular but were very well accepted. These decisions were accepted only for a reason, the respect that people had for him.
In the other hand, the other component of authority is fear. This derives mainly from the capacity of the leader to punish his/her subordinates. Some leaders have coercive power and use as the main tool in achieving their goals. These types of leaders tend to believe that through coercion you can achieve much more because you get the most from subordinate since they fear you. This derives from the belief that if someone fears you he or she will do anything just to not put into question your authority. Fearing the leader is a process that starts when subordinates come to contact for any sort information about this particular leader. They might hear that from the other fellow employees or other soldiers if military organization, that the leader is really a person who punishes in hardest way. In the book Prince, Machiavelli believes that it is impossible to achieve both respect and fear but when you have to choose between them fear is much more productive. He states that since you cannot trust people in tough times and it is better to be feared because fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails you (Prince, 80).
The coercive power mentioned above is based on fear and is the ability to punish someone for any noncompliance. One way that leaders coerce their subordinates is by showing them that they are not complying with the process enforced by leader. However, also by fear and coercion can be achieved a lot of results.
In the military fear of leader exists in all levels, from the newly recruits up to the senior officers. In the beginning of the military career soldiers fear from the leader because he can use his power and authority to punish them, which can have a negative result in their career. Interesting is the fact that these new soldiers have their utmost respect for their commander but yet fear has more influence than respect. This is much related to the stages of individual development and to the environment they perform in. There are a lot of cases that soldiers do things only regarding to the fear they have from their leader. There are also a lot of leaders that use fear upon their subordinates even that they complained when their former leaders used coercion on them.
A good example of a leader who used fear could be Enver Hoxha, the communist leader of Albania. He was considered to be the best man to lead Albania after World War II. He had graduated from a prominent French University and fought heroically during the war. But Albanian people turned to be wrong. As he came to power he started eliminating his opponents and anyone who could come on his way. The most known eliminations were deportation, imprisonment, family punishments and not excluding killing people. These eliminations had a very high psychological effect on the population. During this time Albania became a country where the continuous repression had affected everyone.
This paper has been an overview of two sides of conceptualization of leadership by subordinates, respect and fear. Fear has the tendency to make employees or soldiers perform better and achieve results but they feel unworthy as individuals. Respect is much more welcomed because it makes employees or soldiers to feel more confident and to feel themselves as part of team. At the military point of view much respect is assigned to certain positions and ranks but only the real respect is the everlasting one.
In conclusion I think that in order to be a properly respected leader you must at first show respect. If you earn to the respect of the employees is much easier to accomplish goals, also the job performed by the subordinates will be of a higher level. The point is that if you earn the respect of the employees or the soldiers in a military organization, they will perform accordingly whatever the situation or when not under direct supervision. Promoting respect to any organization gives a dose of authority through influencing people.
We should always try to make respect the core of our relationship with others. Having a mutual respect with subordinates only brings us success and continuous improvements. This kind of relationship will have sincerity at the top of it something that will create an everlasting desire and willingness to help each other. Only the true respect will inspire the subordinates to perform their best, and their best means the best for leader.