Why Force and Coercion Are Not Solutions When Asking Does Not Work

Leaders of any group hold the responsibility of making decisions for the greater good. Studying tactics used by prior leaders, analyzing what would work today, and employing your own strategy to deal with novel issues is a difficult balancing act to perform.

The introduction of issues that can grow into problems for groups you lead may call for changes in their behavior. Thinking about how to encourage a change in group behavior in an effort to solve widespread issues is a necessity prior to attempting such a feat. Group behavior is not easily swayed when that group’s inclination doesn’t align with your goals.

Leaders turn to coercing and forcing when encouraging good behavior does not work. Whether it be a failure to plan, to strategize, or to manage, a loss of control is often a prerequisite to employing forceful measures.

This article aims to dissuade you from coercing or employing forceful measures to change the behavior of those you lead.


Encouragement of Dishonesty

Forcing people into doing what you want them to do elevates their chances of acting dishonestly. The groups you lead will tend to evaluate and travel paths of least resistance in their yearning for autonomy.

You will encourage dishonest attempts at maintaining autonomy in those whom you force and coerce to behave in a manner you desire. Loopholes in your measures will be found. The aspects of your strategy on which you spend time defending will be ignored as they will pose resistance to those seeking to retain their sense of autonomy. Things you don’t focus on will be exploited. The eyes and ears of those you force and coerce to act in accordance to your rules will focus on what your eyes and ears aren’t attending to.

A false sense of stability will wash over any forceful leader as they perceive things to be under control. Freedom lies in what a forceful leader’s gaze overlooks.

Expect there to be an increase in dishonest behavior with the forceful measures, rules, and mandates you employ over those you lead. The more forcefully that you govern as a leader, the slicker the methods of those you seek to control will be. The more you coerce people to act against their will, the more potential for dishonesty you introduce to their behavior around you.

Starting such a cycle should be avoided rather than attempted.


Their Trust Isn’t Gained at Your Will

A second barrier to employing forceful methods in getting people to abide by your requests is one of trust. At the base of any forceful or coercing methods is the pretense that those following your lead should trust you. Whether you call on expert opinion, your own expertise, or show evidence for your forceful methods is secondary to the fact that you’re asking people to trust your judgement without giving them an option not to.

Trust is seldom gained by not giving others a choice to exercise their distrust toward you. Your forceful methods which may be well planned out and fact-based will discourage a trusting relationship between yourself and your followers.

An important aspect to building trust is allowing for the opportunity to not trust. Only when others have explored the options of not trusting you without barriers can they grow to fully trust you. Those who explore for themselves are likely to follow you in your conclusions if they are aligned with objective truth.

Citing your experience whilst coercing and forcing your followers to act in accordance to what you think is right will not encourage them to trust that experience. In an effort to gain trust from those you lead, they should have the freedom to explore the same avenues you did in arriving at the conclusions that you’ve made.


Responsibility for Outcomes Rests Squarely on Your Shoulders

Leaders too giddy in employing forceful measures suffer from a shortsighted outlook.

A leader who adopts a forceful approach to changing group behavior assumes the risk of being the sole entity to blame should those changes pan out for the worse. That risk should not be considered lightly, as you will not control which point in time your directions are labeled to have failed. You may still be hoping for better outcomes when your followers decide that the direction you’ve taken them toward is incorrect.

A leader who forces and coerces is the only one to blame when things go wrong as a result. Refraining from seriously considering this risk is a prerequisite to adopting forceful measures that don’t pan out.

Ensure that you seriously consider the risk that comes with telling people what to do. Though you may feel yourself to be operating in accordance with truth when you force and coerce, you will have no say in deciding what truth turns out to be. Your forceful leadership tactics can come back to force your submission as you’d be the only one to blame for misguiding those you’ve led down a dark path.

Forcing and coercing should be a frightening direction to venture down thereby. The decision to force and coerce when asking nicely doesn’t work should make you pause and analyze what happens when forcing and coercing doesn’t work. You’d be considering an extreme measure that carries with it the risk of being labelled as the sole proprietor of negative experiences for your followers.


Casting Yourself Down a Predetermined Path

Being able to pivot off directions that you deem incorrect is an important lifeline to have available. More options are closed off the more sure you are of the direction you want your followers to travel down. Few opportunities to correct the course are available after forcing followers into an unfortunate situation.

Coercion and force stick leaders on a predetermined track. The outcome of coercing your followers to act as you deem fit may prove effective in the short term. But the train tracks don’t end there, time keeps birthing consequences to your decisions. Notwithstanding good or bad, you will have no option of correcting course.

Force and coercion work early and work once. If force and coercion survives into the long-term, then the gamble has worked out. However, if the long-term proves your coercive actions to be wrong, jumping off the train is all that’s left to do.

A public privy to your ignorance behind any forceful or coercive tactic you employ is the beginning of the end for any power that you hold. Force and coercion are not options when you’re proven wrong for forcing and coercing once.


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.