Home Commentary If you wish to discipline an employee, do it in private.

If you wish to discipline an employee, do it in private.

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Leadership through “Trust”, not “Fear”.


Far too often I’ve seen great businessmen fail as being great leaders, the problem is their ego becomes too inflated and they forget what makes the business successful — It’s the people.

I made myself a promise not to be like my employers when I embarked on my journey to start my own firm; much to the credit of the people I employed, I can safely say we achieved a level of success we are proud of.

Now that I’m in a position where I can relax because I trust my employees enough to do their tasks, I focus on writing and sharing what I’ve learnt.

The most crucial mistake I notice being made is that far too often the boss will decide to lash out at an employee in public, berating them in-front of their colleagues.

They believe it sends a message, it does — but not one of superiority.

One of fear.

Fear is a cancer and it must be severed off before it metastasises into the business culture.

You notice an employee has been missing deadlines, they’ve been coming in late to work, their mind seems to wander, they don’t seem happy, they seem on-edge, well something is wrong — against your best judgment you react, without understanding.

Without understanding, you berate the employee in public.

The colleagues now fear you,

…well congratulations you colossally fucked up!

Out of fear, they’ll now never come to you with their problems — instead when they do make a mistake, they’ll try their best to cover it up; sending the problem spiralling out of control.

You’ve just made a bloody mess, and you’ll still blame the employees for it.

Here’s how you should’ve handled the situation,

Showed some affection, a level of eloquence, and a sense of emotion intelligence.

Instead of reprimanding the employee or have H.R. take care of it, you should’ve talked it out in private.

The employees will start scheming behind your back out of fear, if you don’t.

Basically, it’s only cool when Al Pacino does it in the movies,


Talk it out,

Bring the employee in, and have an open face to face conversation — not a confrontation.

Rather try to understand the “Why”, ask what’s wrong — is it family, is it their job, the work load, their health, something another employee did to them…ASK!

Now that you’ve asked, try to understand…put yourself in their shoes.

If you aren’t a trust-fund baby, I’m guessing you too were once grinding away at a job.

Help them, move them through the problem — offer them a break.

But won’t they start taking advantage of me?

Maybe, but most of them won’t.

Some people take advantage anyways, so what?

They won’t last long because of the unified culture you’re built, your employees will make sure they work together to solve the problem.

Promote a culture of unity, don’t be afraid to talk about your family.

One of the most unconventional things I did was bringing my mother to work, show her the office — have her walk around.

She’s not part of the business, but it promotes a culture of family values; people start to trust you more.

They know you too are human and have a family.


Taking chances,

I was interviewing people to manage the H.R. department, I wanted to hire someone with a background in Social Work and Psychology.

We interviewed some top-level candidates, guess what — I didn’t like a single one of them.

They all read the same script — ME ME ME ME! I Accomplished this, I can help do that, Here’s 10 ways we think we could really revamp things around here.

I don’t need that.

I need a human being, not a robot.

In walks this lady, she’s shaken, nervous, she’s open and honest — she tells me she needs a job because she wants to help support her family, she’s not the most qualified of people and hasn’t worked in a few years, she’s willing to learn but understands that she might not be the best fit for this position but felt it was worth trying.

I see my mother in her, I think to myself — “This is the person I need”

I ask her one simple question, “If I act like an asshole, will you let me know?”

She laughs, but realises I’m serious — she says “I sure will. You shouldn’t be using language like that in the office, young man.”

She won me over, she became the most wonderful morale booster in the office.

People went over to talk to her voluntarily to talk about their problems.

I offered her a chance to resign and start her own coaching business, I felt she could do it and I would’ve happily taken up a financial partnership.

She declined, saying she was happy where she was for the time being but appreciated the offer — “Just don’t ever tell other employees you make offers out of sympathy”.

This woman was a mind reader, and now that I’m at home — away from my work, focusing on my writing; she runs the business.

She lets me know whenever I’m required, and is able to handle things without me ever needing to step in.

She even critiques my writing sometimes.

It was a leap of faith and empathy, without it I would’ve been a failure.

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