Leading By Fear and Cruelty

Teyonna Little


Ms. Pahomov

April 6, 2018

Leading By Fear and Cruelty

As a leader, what people say, do, and act upon is what others follow. Rather or not it is good or bad doesn't matter, it’s how ineffective or effective people are at being what they claim to be. Leadership qualities and skills are essential when leading a group of people who fully relies on their leaders and what they teach. In today’s society and in the novel, Lord of the flies written by William Golding, there are specific persons in leadership who controls the citizens under them and scare their opponents with intimidation simply because they have the power to do so. Leaders can be most effective by asserting their authority through fear and cruelty. This ability can help them even get power over other leaders.  

In the novel, a group of young boys are stranded on an island and left to fend for themselves. One of the main characters, Jack is a leader upon a part of the group of boys. Throughout the book,  he takes this responsibility for granted by intimidating his followers and opponents. When all of the boys gathered round for an important meeting talking about the beast, everyone shared their ideas for how to deal with this beast. Jack responds to some ideas in rude ways. For example, “And you shut up! Who are you, anyway? Sitting there telling people what to do… I’m chief! I was chosen!”  The tone of his character is ultimately authoritative, but it is not a take control of the situation, it is a “control” by force situation. He wants to feel rather superior and in doing this he leads through fear. The way he talks to his people is rather scary and this only makes it easier for him to get what he wants. In this particular moment, he uses the phrase “I’m chief” to also remind people who he is. They might already know, but saying this is a demand of remembrance, so they know exactly who to listen to even if other people comes up with ideas or takes the place of a leader for a split second. Leading this way gives him leadway to have controlling power.  

Leading by fear is a common thing among leaders today. After researching examples of leaders who leads through fear, I found the website businessinsider.  This specific article gives 18 influential and well known people who leads by fear and provides specific details of what they had done. Most people that appeared on this website are bosses or someone at a high level of leadership. The one that was surprising the most was Martha Stewart. The report noted,  although she is cheerful, “Martha Stewart can be a very intimidating boss. She’s not great at giving up control either.” Research also shows she “pushed down” 2 CEO’s within a year. Usually in business, when saying “pushed down”, this means making someone want to quit or resign from their position. In this case, 2 other leaders. The connection between Martha Stewart and Jack is clear that they both are very aggressive. They use this to their advantage to get their followers to do what they want how they want it. When it comes to oppressing their opponents, they succeed in getting this fear that their followers have to spread to other leaders.  

Although Jack’s influence is yet effective, his actions can sometimes be intensely unpleasant and cruel. As readers know, Jack as a leader possesses good and bad leadership qualities, one of his worst tactics to rise to power would be cruelty to others. In this case, Jack is attempting to prove his power to the other boys, including Ralph and Piggy, 2 other leaders of the boys. He explicitly shows the transition from just an ordinary school boy in charge of the choir, to an angry boy who lust for power and leadership over everyone and the island. The book reads, “... and the wails of agreement from the hunters drove Jack to violence…  He took a step, and able to last to hit someone, struck his fist into Piggy’s stomach… You would, would you? Fatty! … Jack smacked Piggy’s head.”(71) When leading by fear, there is a strong lust for power, and there are different ways people use to get to that level. Cruelty can be used and expressed for different reasons and different ways. This strategy cannot just be used to put other people down, such as people who do not follow that specific leader, but to gain control over other leaders. And may I remind you, Piggy has the quality of a leader, but is in no shape to be one.

Surely, many should be aware of the presidential election of 2016, and the reputations of the candidates and the series of events leading up to this point. During the campaign, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go head to head to be president. Everything is out there, when you run for these spots in society. Leading through fear and putting people down can ultimately scare people into being their follower. Research was done to obtain specific details of Trump putting other people down just as Jack belittled Piggy. Here is one example of Donald Trump belittling women indirectly, these were his words, “beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.” It is acceptable for a leader to be angry or frustrated, but it is unacceptable when they use this for control. Not only is this cruel treatment, this is cruel treatment to the ones following the leader and the opponents.

There are many tactics that leaders who are not bad, but have bad qualities use to gain control over people and things.  Two of these tactics are to lead by fear and cruelty. These unnecessary, but yet effective skills can help them gain power over other leaders. This is not something people would  want to be acknowledged for, but try to be acknowledged for their good qualities, like confidence and patience.

Works Cited:

  1. Golding, William, Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin, 2006.

  2. Cohen, Claire. “Donald Trump Sexism Tracker: Every Offensive Comment in One Place.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 4 June 2016, www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/. I found this source by researching specific leaders who put other people down. I know this source is credible because it contains evidence of each thing listed and backs it up with explanations and it is a timeline. This influenced ,my thinking by drawing certain connections to the book and my thesis statement.

  3. Nisen, Max. “18 Executives Who Lead By Fear.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 12 Sept. 2012, www.businessinsider.com/18-executives-who-lead-by-fear-2012-9#film-and-theater-producer-scott-rudin-7.  I found this source by researching people who leads by fear and how they do. I think this source of credible because it gave several leaders and well-known people and descriptions of what they done to lead by fear.

Comments (3)

Payton McQuilkin (Student 2020)
Payton McQuilkin

I agree with your argument that leaders will be aggressive to try and feel more superior. I learned that there is many people out their in the work world that are using their power to advantage. My thinking has changed because there is a long list of 18 people that are just being highlighted there are many more people like that. I don’t think this behavior can be changed or solved because some people just can’t help themselves they try and get ahead and act superior to people.

Rasa Watson (Student 2020)
Rasa Watson

I agree with your thesis, that leaders can be effective when asserting authority. but the evidence you gave made me see more about it. I learned new things from reading this essay. this behavior should be avoided by not submitting to it, but that is hard to do when the person in. control and is being aggressive is a boss.

Niya Petty (Student 2020)
Niya Petty

I never looked at fear this way such as the way you put it saying how people act upon others and follow when it comes to fear. Your first paragraph is what kept me engaged and going over the basics of going through fear can be effective and overpowering to a leader. This could be solved by taking action into what or how fears who being their own person and not being a follower just because someone leads you into what they fear also.