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There has been much written in the papers and online recently about a nominee for an important government position who uses a tough managerial style. I think that being tough is an integral part of being an effective leader, and I do not believe that being tough should ever stop someone from holding a top leadership position. To the contrary, I think it should be a requirement. What do you think?

There are times when effective leaders do need to be tough, but there is a difference between toughness and bullying. Today's most effective managers are able to vary their leadership style dependent upon the individuals involved and various situational factors.

There can be times when such leaders are indeed tough, decisive, and firm, such as when time constraints are limited and the potential outcomes are critical. At the same time, such leaders can use a more communicative and participative style in other situations, such as when the pressure or stakes are not as great.

However, there is never an appropriate time for a manager to bully his or her employees. When managers threaten, harass, degrade, or intimidate their employees, they are not managing at all. A manager who throws things at his or her employees or chases them up and down the halls is not showing that he or she is firm or tough, but is actually showing weakness. They are weak when it comes to understanding management per se, as well as understanding the people whom they supervise.

Truly effective managers focus on their employees as individuals and strive to treat them with respect and trust, regardless of the situation. Managers who stray from this approach soon find that their best employees stray from them.

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