The Pitfalls of a Fear-Based Culture

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We once had a client with a fear-based culture.

People at the company were used to having their teeth kicked in. So they’d often take that out on our team.

Here’s what happened: In this fear-based culture, senior leadership were frantic. Always busy. Always rushed. Always too important for patience.

As a result, everyone at the company got their teeth kicked in regularly.

The abuse played out in feedback on deliverables, mainly. Passive-aggressive emails. Frustrated comments in docs. Zoom calls with no videos and people talking over each other.

What happened next astounded me.

Good people who meant well started taking this out on my team.

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They were short. Impatient. Rude. All the things we saw playing out from their senior leadership were being acted out on us.

Now, it’s one thing to treat a vendor like this (yes, unfortunately, they saw us as ‘vendors’ and not partners like all our other clients do).

But imagine this attitude creeps in with clients?

The big problem here is that it permeates. A culture of impatience, always-being-right, and fire-fighting spreads. It plays out with colleagues, partners, and even clients. And it all stems from fear.

My advice? Treat people as humans at work.

Perhaps then, they’ll start to see themselves as humans at work too.

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