Leaders Who Yell and Ridicule on Purpose
Those who worked at Apple during the Steve Jobs era sheepishly agree that his leadership style commonly included insults and emotional displays of ridicule.
In fact, Jobs so frequently lambasted and yelled at colleagues, those on the receiving end would often say they had been “Steved.” When asked about this, Jobs believed his tirades contributed to Apple’s tremendous success. In other words, he did it on purpose.
Is raising your voice ever an effective leadership strategy?
It depends on the perceived intentions of the screamer. Is the leader yelling to express their anger or disappointment in a mean-spirited and disrespectful way? Or are they yelling because of their passion and caring about the issue at hand? Do they raise their voice because they don’t mind humiliating people as long as they get everyone’s attention? Or is their acoustic intensity their way of authentically expressing how important it is for everyone to listen?
Some of the best leaders in history were known to yell now and again. In some workplaces, such as athletic and military arenas, it is even expected. That said, one thing is for certain: No one ever forgets getting screamed at.
When a leader’s high-decibel intentions are viewed as unfavorable, yelling keeps everyone on edge, waiting for the next tirade. It alarms people and demotivates them from doing their best work. It feels disrespectful because it is.
On the other hand, when a leader is viewed as expressing themselves passionately in a way that grabs everyone’s focus, yelling can be seen as a device or a tactic that adds energy and emphasis.
The key concern is how frequently a leader raises their voice. Used too often, yelling will almost always be seen as an insult and highly ill-mannered, even when leaders are known to care.
Constantly yelling and carrying on doesn’t make anyone a better leader. What it does make is someone who becomes known as a screamer. And screamers are eventually ignored or marched to the nut house.
Unless, they invent the iPhone.