It is a business leader’s job to encourage their staff to raise standards.  It is the leader’s job to persuade people to try new methods.  They should coax staff into working more efficiently.  They need to be an influence for change.

But when does persuasion, encouragement, coaxing and influencing turn into coercion?

Coercion is “the action or practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats”.

Notice the “force or threats”.

Coercion happens when humanity gets lost in the process.  When making the change happen is more important than the humanity of the people involved.

There is a fine line between encouragement and coercion.  Encouragement is drawing out the qualities of the individual.  Coercion is forcing your values on others using fear or threats.

Coercion can be subtle.  It can happen in a moment.  It can arrive in all sorts of forms, and be aimed at some while invisible to others.

Coercion can appear to work as a leadership tool in the short term, but it always causes damage – immense damage to relationships that can take years to mend.

In the long term it will always fail because individuals need to find their own motivation to thrive.

Be careful how you manage your staff.  Engage them in a shared vision.  Don’t cross that line.