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Joanne B. Ciulla
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Joanne B. Ciulla

Joanne Ciulla is Professor and Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, the only undergraduate degree-granting school of leadership studies in the world.

Be a Fear Fighter

[In response to this week's On Leadership question, Fear Factor]

The reason why fear is a leader's dirty little secret is because they use it when they are either unwilling or unable to persuade people to work together to achieve a particular goal. Yes, fear gets results but it does so at a cost. People do not always behave rationally when they are afraid. Fear stifles constructive deliberation.

Opponents of health-care reform have, so far, been very effective at using fear. The same people we see shouting at town-hall meetings about death panels and socialism are also the ones who will suffer if nothing is done about our health-care system. If President Obama used fear to get his fellow Democrats to toe the party line on health care, he might stifle healthy debate that would create a better bill. Also, since no one likes to be bullied, the use of fear can lead to resentment, and resentful people eventually either bite back or are not there when you need them.

Leaders can be strong without instilling fear. The president should be steadfast and unrelenting in his quest for a workable health-care reform bill. Instead of using the stick on his fellow Democrats, he needs to help them win the support of their constituents. At this point, President Obama should be fighting the public fear of health-care reform - not using fear to discipline his party.

By Joanne B. Ciulla

 |  August 21, 2009; 10:39 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I agree with Ms. Ciulla's article. I am disgusted with the fear tactics and out right lies coming from those supporting the status quo. I will share my fear. Living in the 2nd congressional district here in Virginia. We elected a democrat this past November only to find out that he thinks the present health care delivery system works just fine. So much for representation from a member of your own party. There has to be a public option to service the needs of the uninsured, the under insured and the recently unemployed.

Posted by: fabricmaven1 | August 24, 2009 7:54 PM
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Any knowledgeable sales person can tell you that fear of loss is the most effective selling tool. It is the basis for all "door to door" pitches, the basis for the beanie-baby craze, and the backbone of the insurance industry.
Insurance is gambling. You are afraid something untoward is going to happen to you, and buy insurance to cover your losses. The insurance company is betting that nothing will happen, and takes your money. Remember, the house always wins in the long run. When purchasing an item OR AN IDEA, do not act out of fear, and you will be hard to scam. Which side is scaring people in this debate, and what are their motives?

Posted by: gss49 | August 24, 2009 6:50 PM
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You Americans are the most fearful bunch of boobs. A small percentage of your fellow citizens who have an entirely seperate agenda are the ones who seem to be running the health care debate. Making it a debate about everything but health care.

Apparently they are being so successful that the Average American is now becoming sure that if the US tries to follow the lead of every other developed country on earth then it will result in granny being euthanised, a bureaucrat in the bathroom, and a scialist takeover of the reins of government.

Whereas in fact you might be able to enjoy the same advantages as we Aussies - if only you tell the liars and fools in your midst to SHUT UP AND STOP LYING.

In Aus we have a prescription drug subsidy which means any life saving or sustaining drug prescription will cost no more than $5.40A.
We have free hospital cover.
We have free visits to (our choice) of doctor.

And guess what? We are not in a recession.

Remember how the brilliant minds who are now selling fear of healthcare handled the economy in your country?

My God but Americans are a bunch of boobs.

Posted by: jamesmmoylan | August 24, 2009 5:10 PM
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Kesac says:

50% of bankruptcies are caused by healthcare costs" is absolutely untrue.

Actually, it IS true, according to a study in the journal "Health Affairs." And here are some more interesting findings:

"Surprisingly, over 75 percent of those bankrupted by medical problems were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. Among those with private insurance, however, one-third had lost coverage - usually due to job loss - at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy. Out-of-pocket medical costs (for uncovered services) averaged $13,460 for those with private insurance at the onset of their illness, vs. $10,893 for the uninsured. The highest costs - averaging $18,005 - were incurred by those who initially had private coverage but lost it in the course of their illness."

If you want to talk about fear, I find my private insurance company one heck of a lot more frightening than some bogeyman "government takeover" of health care. I know for darn sure that the insurance company is going to cut me off if I get sick. They do it to everybody.

Posted by: ancient_mariner | August 24, 2009 4:25 PM
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Why don't you ask the people who are doing the fearmongering, like Sarah "The Bimbo" Palin who are misinforming the public.

Bush and Cheney used fear as part of their tactics, not President Obama.

The wacko right wing Republican psychos keep getting their pants on backwards, everything Bush and Cheney did they're trying to pin on President Obama and as things get better as a result of what President Obama has done, you're trying to give credit to Bush.

Psycho monkies.


Posted by: lindalovejones | August 24, 2009 2:03 PM
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The author, Joanne Ciulla, appears to suffer from a slight detachment from reality.

From the beginning, the president and his fellow liberals have used little except fear to sell their trillion-dollar boondoggle.

They say 47 million are currently uninsured and so need government insurance. What they don't say is that about 14 million are illegal aliens, that about 15 million more are younger workers who can afford but choose not to buy insurance and that millions of others are already eligible for current government healthcare but choose not to sign up.

The Democrats have been screaming that we need this right now or the economy will collapse. The economy needs jobs right now, not a hugely expensive government takeover of health care.

The most talked-about bill in the House, HR3200, is over 1,000 pages and few have read it, let alone understand the bureaucracy-speak language. Nevertheless, they have been blindly demanding for months that we need it to save our country.

The author accuses those in opposition of fear-mongering. She may be correct. The difference is that the opposition is afraid of jumping into an ill-defined program that increases our debt by over a trillion dollars. They have hard numbers and facts on their side, unlike the fuzzy numbers and facts the liberals are using.

Fear is an essential tool for survival.
The old axiom applies here:
"Look before you leap".

Posted by: spamsux1 | August 24, 2009 1:06 PM
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Kesac wrote:
That gives them permission in their own minds to just ignore our other concerns,

================================

And the other concerns would be: what? That public health care puts us on the "slippery slope" to socialism? Is that like how having public schools or public fire departments are manifestations of pinko-hood? What a crock. But lies worked very well fifteen years ago, and it seems they are working again.

Posted by: zenwick | August 24, 2009 12:38 PM
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The Democrats are using fear to promote their healthcare agenda, and Obama is right in there with the rest of them.
The intentionally decietful story that they use to justify putting each of us on the dole, "50% of bankruptcies are caused by healthcare costs" is absolutely untrue.
The Democrats trivialize, generalise, and rationalize the publics concerns at their own risk.
They pretend those of us who oppose this bill are just afraid of "death panels", or are racists or lacking in compassion.
That gives them permission in their own minds to just ignore our other concerns, even though 30% of the Democrats in congress share them.

Posted by: kesac | August 24, 2009 6:50 AM
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As General Zinni said in his piece "The Curse of Loyalty," if one fosters integrity and honesty, then respect will follow.

The healthcare debate has been disingenuous from the start. nancy Pelosi effectively locked out Republicans from the start. The only bill that is being discussed is the house Bill, where every effort was made to make it a one-party bill.

In the senate, Chuck Schumer has has been saying for two months that the Democrats may go it alone.

Along those lines, the number one issue for Republicans is tort reform because it undergirds the whole establishment of defensive medicine, extra paperwork, unnecessary tests, and phony insurance claims. All of these things drive up the cost of health insurance for patients, malpractice insurance for doctors, and health care costs across the board. but Democrats will never buck their favorite special interest, the Trial lawyers.

Against that backdrop, it is dishonest for President Obama to claim that he has tried for a bi-partisan bill because he has not. And it is disingenuous to say he is fighting special interests when he is in bed with some of them.

Is Obama's, er, the house's health plan being demagogued? You betcha. But it is a two-way street. Which brings us back to general Zinni's comments about fostering integrity before loyalty.

Posted by: mandog | August 21, 2009 9:37 PM
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The partial truth of any opponent in the game of addressing an idea in the political arena is more dangerous than reaching the goal. The outcome is only dangerous when the authors have played their hands with an Ace up their sleeves. When those in power do not get the right people on board a project and are not willing to represent the thesis of their arrogance then the state of affairs is no longer as strong as the clothes that they wear. Our Constitution is only as strong as those words taken apart one by one. This health care project will only be as strong as each word taken as a truth that will last against the test of time. Just how strong is this country?

Posted by: louisewilson1 | August 21, 2009 6:18 PM
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