Make no mistake it is tough out there. Whether you are fighting for customers or some even greater cause, conditions are violent.
But as leaders do we have to be violent? Some say we do.
Taking the example of sport, imagine facing a fast bowler like James Anderson. There’s nothing friendly about his bowling. In fact you risk serious injury unless you get out of the way or learn to fend the ball off.
And that’s the right way to bowl at the opposition.
With competition you have to be tough. But there’s a key distinction and this is where some leaders get this very wrong. They fail to distinguish between external and internal resistance.
Authority can be abused. Power descends into bullying. Bullying our own people.
“Tough love” I hear you say, and yes we do have to be firm with errant team members. But if you have a string of broken relationships amongst your own people you are doing something drastically wrong.
Who are you fighting here? In war, nothing is more tragic that so-called “friendly fire”, that is shooting your own side by mistake.
Even worse than this is shooting down your own people on purpose.
The very best leaders I can think of were tough, violent even, with external forces, but tender and sensitive with their own disciples.
If your main battle is with your own side, get help. That’s tough love.