How to Answer "Do You Think a Leader Should be Feared or Liked?"

According to Robert Reffkin, CEO and co-founder of Urban Compass, “Instilling fear in employees is an antiquated managerial approach…the problem with ‘fear’ is that it isn’t a good motivator”. When you are in your next job interview and asked the question whether a leader should be feared or liked, you must be prepared to provide a solid basis for your answer. This article will address how to respond to this question in a manner that will leave a good impression of you with the hiring manager.

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1. Leadership Philosophy

Italian Renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli once famously said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both… He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command”. For many years, business owners have managed their operations under a similar philosophy of it is better to be feared than loved. However, in this new age, more leaders have implemented management plans that operate under the philosophy of leaders being liked by their employees. When deciding on a way to answer the question of whether or not you think a leader should be feared or liked, it basically comes down to deciphering the differences between the two types of leaders.

2. Feared Leaders Breed Negativity

When responding to this question, you can share that leaders who are feared breed negativity in the workplace. Employees will complete tasks. However, there is no respect in the actions, only fear of repercussions for disobeying orders. For example, employees who fear their leader are afraid of being fired for violating the whims of their employer. Frustrations can run rampant and then cause the employees to become resentful of the feared leader. Additionally, feared leaders stifle creativity in the workplace as employees’ growth is stunted and they cannot perform to their optimal level.

3. Liked Leaders Cultivate Positivity

In continuing to respond to the question, you can share that leaders who are liked cultivate positivity in the workplace. Employees can easily relate to likeable leaders and are not afraid to state their opinions because they know they will be heard. Likeable leaders want to be accepted by their employees and also work hard to accept them in return. In a workplace environment where the leader is liked, positivity and creativity are encouraged and cultivated. Employees are able to perform at their optimal level because they do not fear repercussions from a feared leader.

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Performing well during a job interview is so important and you can accomplish this by being prepared to answer a wide variety of questions. In regard to responding to the question discussed in this article, sharing the differences between the workplace atmospheres of a feared leader versus a liked leader is a good place to start. You can finish your answer by sharing that a liked leader, who is also respected, is the best kind of leader. Such a leader is not only liked but respected and this encourages employees and team members to perform at their highest level in the workplace.