In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere makes the point that “Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
If you look at leadership as a function of control, then to be feared is more desirable. If you view leadership as a function of incubation and growth, then to be feared or to be loved is not a question necessary for review. One can be feared and still foster. One can be loved and still incubate. One cannot be loved, however, and maintain unquestioned, steadfast control.
So the reality manifests that one should not ask oneself, “Should I be feared, or should I be loved?” And model their character and their leadership upon the answer to this internal question. It manifests that one should ask oneself, “What is my goal?” If one’s goal is to control and to micromanage, to render his or her respective leadership organ a self-constructed model of his or her image, then of course fear is most desired. If one’s goal is to foster, to grow, to educate, to enable, and to inspire, then it is not necessary to be loved, or to be feared. It is not necessary to be defined by character, but rather, to be defined by the effectiveness of practices enabled.
For the former, one must ask themselves simply: “Do I control them?” If the answer is yes, no action is necessary. If the answer is no, a healthy dose of fear will suffice. For the latter, one must ask themselves: “Have they grown? Have they been enabled?” If the answer is yes, no action is necessary. If the answer is no, the leader must not say to himself, “I must make myself scarier,” or, “I must make myself more loved,” because doing so will not solve the problem that his people have not grown, have not been enabled. The leader must say, “What must I do now that I have not been doing that will allow them to be enabled, that will allow them to grow?” And it can be seen clearly that that process does not require love, does not require fear, but requires instead intelligence and perceptiveness.
Indeed, a leader might look upon his people and say, “Are they loved?” Because a strong case might be made that love is nothing more than the function of incubation, of fostering, of enabling growth and success within one who cannot yet enable or foster himself. The question should not be, then, one of whether or not one should be feared or should be loved. It should be, rather, a question of whether or not one loves others.