Should we admire or fear our leaders? This question harks back to the musings of Niccolò Machiavelli from long ago. Over the years, “fear” has often stood as the prevailing model in various societies—schools, governments, homes, workplaces, and more. In factories, stringent rules have been imposed on workers to boost productivity. Offices have seen anxious employees unable to present a positive front to clients. In the realm of advertising, stifling controls have hindered creativity.
The specter of fear from authority remains a potent force even in modern times. In developed nations, numerous leaders still rely on fear, and their employees endure it, rationalizing this model as “business as usual.” Why tolerate such an environment? Some find a sense of pride in weathering the storm, while others prefer adhering to rules. There are those who believe that a stern boss could push them to exceed their limits. In certain situations, a fear-based leadership style is called upon to discourage risky behavior.
In certain countries, leaders adopt an autocratic, brusque demeanor. Surprisingly, such leaders can command profound respect when they blend autocracy with genuine concern for their team. This phenomenon is notably visible in sports, with coaches who demand and intimidate, yet inspire unwavering loyalty due to their evident care and compassion.
But should leaders aim to sow fear among their team members? The answer is an unequivocal no. Ruling through force and intimidation has inherent drawbacks. Aggressive behavior stems from inadequacy. An overbearing style is unlikely to steer a company towards enduring success and productivity. On the other hand, should leaders adopt a softer approach? Again, no. A gentle demeanor is equally ineffective and insincere.
In Norway, numerous industrial firms are haunted by the fear of bankruptcy. Consequently, they invest in technological advancements. The preference is to avoid hiring foreigners and immigrants, except when local experts are unavailable. This hints at an undercurrent of xenophobia, acknowledged but not openly discussed. Media portrays a rosy image of Norway, yet the Norwegian government expends considerable resources each year to obscure the xenophobic tendencies prevalent among its citizens from the international press.
Searching online for articles on racism in Norway and discrimination by Norwegian employers yields minimal results. Does this imply their absence? Far from it. Why are Norwegians hesitant to employ immigrants and foreigners? Comfort, perhaps. Hiring locals spares them complications. They’re more familiar with Norwegians, as non-Norwegians remain somewhat enigmatic. The truth about “Janteloven” is scarcely covered in Norwegian or any other language articles. This Scandinavian code admonishes, “You are not better than us!” It castigates individual achievement, fostering skepticism toward exceptional individuals. Only when foreign expertise is absolutely essential, typically within sectors like education or the oil industry, do they opt for non-Norwegians. It’s no surprise that many non-Norwegians eventually leave the country.
Anders Breivik’s heinous act of murdering young Norwegians on Utøya island a few years back was, in part, fueled by the oppressive tenets of Janteloven. Nationalism becomes perilous when exploited by malevolent forces, transforming into an imperialist weapon.
Returning to the realm of management, poor leadership yields catastrophic outcomes. Despite frequent meetings and sporadic courses, many leaders falter. The source of this problem in Norway lies in the wholesale adoption of U.S.-crafted strategies. Every country, every company, must tailor their management techniques to fit their unique culture, economy, and work environment.
American and Norwegian work environments diverge substantially. An American-spirited individual in a Norwegian firm might find themselves isolated by local coworkers. Exceptions exist, of course. If a Norwegian insurance firm’s manager employs a quintessential American strategy, they jeopardize the company’s economic stability and court failure.
This inflexibility leads numerous Norwegian companies to bankruptcy. Clinging to outdated strategies breeds future complications. Adaptability within an organization is paramount. Leaders and managers should embrace a strong, liberal, and democratic approach to decision-making for enduring success. They must harmonize their approach with the local culture and work environment.
A company’s future hinges on an effective management system and strategy. This approach can partly alleviate unemployment and economic issues. Successful leaders adapt their style accordingly. It is immaterial for a leader to instill fear. A commendable leader concentrates on bolstering company productivity, trimming budgets, and fostering a conducive work atmosphere.
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