You’ll get more flies with honey, the old adage goes.
But when we need someone to do something, especially something important and worthwhile, sometimes this approach simply encourages others to keep expecting ‘honey’ in return for their efforts.
Honey is one strategy. Fear is another.
When something is extra important, either to our success or our ego or status, we don’t always reach for sweetness. We reach for a scare, a stick.
This compliance-based approach is likely one we’ve all experienced. We are warned or told what will happen if we don’t comply. This approach often makes the messenger seem large, and the audience small. Instead of bringing people together around something bigger than ourselves, fear forces us to whisper, or work in isolation.
Sure, compliance has its place.
This is the musician who wants others to listen to their song, the educator who wants their students to finish their homework, or the manager who asks employees to complete a one-time task. Here, securing compliance is enough. It’s something people either did or didn’t do.
Yet, this approach yields a short-term reward, not a long-term sustainable gain.
When we invest resources (like, time, energy, or money) in an initiative, we are often hoping for more than compliance; we aim to truly engage others around an idea that we want them to take up as their own and spread.
When engagement is our desired outcome, what’s important to us, may not be important to others, unless we show why.
This could be a new company ritual, a management behavior, or a change in how the business operates.
Fear is a natural and often necessary part of change and transformation. It involves asking people to go to a place they are often terrified to go to, or let go of.
Though it can originate from fear, a strong why ultimately relies on hope.
Rather than lean on fear or what will happen if don’t comply, we can first engage others around a universal truth. Choosing to pull on hope versus push on fear means painting a vision of a future others want to be a part of. Hope is something we can rally around together.