Category Archives: Compliance

Reason and Force

I recently read an article where the author contended that there were only two ways to get people to do something. You could reason with them and get them to do what you want of their own volition, or you could use force to compel them to do as you would desire.The authors thesis was that the gun was a sign of civilization in that by being armed you removed everyone else’s capability to compel you to do anything (due to your capability to meet force with force) so that the only way to get things one would be through reason. It was an interesting argument, but not one I will go into here.

What I would like to address is the concept of force and reason to get thing done in the business arena. As business leaders, you can in fact use “force” to get things done. By being in the position of authority you can compel people to do as you want under penalty of potentially losing their job. We have all known those managers that have employed this method of management, and may have also employed it our selves from time to time.

Force and reason in the business environment equate to compliance and commitment by the business team.

If the team is “forced” to do something, they most normally will “comply”. They will do as they are told.They will not have bought into the plan or project, or internalized their motivation. All motivation will have to come from you, and it will normally be a “negative reinforcement”, meaning they will work to avoid the negative consequences that would arise from not doing as they are told.

If the team is “reasoned”with, in order to achieve a goal, they will become “committed”. They can buy into the plan, and internalize their motivation. They can align their personal goals with that of the organization and their motivation will be positively reinforced and based on achievement instead of based on the fear of lack of“compliance”.

The down side of reason / commitment vs. force / compliance is time. It takes time to reason issues through and gain commitment. It takes far less time to just tell someone to do something. The key to leadership is to know how much reason is required and how much force to use in order to get both the commitment desired and compliance needed to attain the desired objective within the allotted amount of time.