While holding a job as an adolescent, I was under the supervision of a team leader who relied chiefly on direct coercion methods to obtain results. This leader did not appear dictatorial or belligerent; rather, he seemed to genuinely believe that performance would be better enhanced through alternately offering rewards or threats of punishment. Consequently, it was made clear that employees meeting certain standards would be given preferential scheduling, as it was also understood that those less successful would be denied schedule requests, and also be assigned the least desirable shift tasks.
To my knowledge, this individual’s tactics were effective insofar as the company met its goals and the employees responded as anticipated. Coercion of this kind typically works, given the invariable fact that most employees seek to gain the most favorable job conditions for themselves. Research supports, however, that, while such tactics generate compliance, they do not tend to elicit commitment (Knippenberg, Hogg, 2004, p. 124). Immediacy is served, but it is served only by an unethical disregard for indvidual crcumstances. The company consistently had a high enmployee turn-over rate, and this indicates the moral – and ironic – flaw in the directly coercive influence. In simple terms, “hard” tactics, in which influence is achieved through overt implications of reward or punishment, are consistently less effective in the long-term than persuasion tactics relying on less direct appeals (Mumford, 2006, p. 194). Persuasion demands a kind of interaction not present in the coercive situation; it takes into account the circumstances of leader and employee. This in turn is an inherently more ethical approach, for it acknowledges the human factor within the leader/subordinate scenario. People under any leadership will be more inclined to willingly make efforts when they are validated as individuals, and this generates a long-term benefit no coercive tactic may produce. As I experienced in that position, the leadership tactics attended to the company’s requirements, yet they also had less positive influences. Simply, as the leader was conveying an ideology of immediate gain as patramount, it translated to an utter lack of loyalty or human consideration being returned. Employees having no sense of being appreciated as individuals have no motivation to reflect such an ethic, and this absence of a moral plaform must ultimately undermine the leadership goals.
/Knippenberg, D. V., & Hogg, M. A. (2004). Leadership and Power: Identity Processes in Groups and Organizations. Thousand Oaks: Sage.