I had breakfast with a group of friends this morning, evenly divided male/female. The topic of the Rutgers coach who got fired came up. I don’t think anyone in the discussion had seen more than a brief clip of the video that detailed the coach’s aggressive behavior toward his athletes. “Like Bobby Knight” was a quick comparison that came up in the discussion. Then someone said, “That aggressive style works.” Participants (all male) in the discussion cited their own experiences with aggressive coaches or bosses and defended that style as effective. (Since none of these folks had seen the video, they were not defending this coach’s behavior specifically, but an aggressive coaching/leadership style generally).
My position was that aggressive leadership styles work as long as the leader is physically present or likely to be in the vicinity, but that “when the cat is away” the style stops working. In fact, it is my experience that aggressive (or worse, abusive) styles are more destructive than constructive because they create negative reactive behaviors, damage employee/leader (or coach/athlete) relationships, and are short term effective, long term destructive. They rely on bullying rather than inspiring.
So, I throw this out to you. What do you think. Does the aggressive style used by some coaches and lots of managers work? Is it ok? Is it productive or destructive? Is it more acceptable for those who have experienced it in their lives than for those who have not, but have only watched it from afar?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?