iron hand

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iron hand

Rigorous control, as in He ruled the company with an iron hand. This usage is sometimes put as iron hand in a velvet glove, meaning "firm but seemingly gentle control," as in She runs the town with an iron hand in a velvet glove. [c. 1700]
See also: hand, iron

an iron ˈfist/ˈhand (in a velvet ˈglove)

harsh treatment of somebody that is hidden behind a gentle manner: The president ruled his country by using an iron fist in a velvet glove.
See also: fist, hand, iron
References in periodicals archive ?
He certainly remained convinced that his ironhanded response was singularly appropriate.
It requires a move away from the ideology of control, from the mistaken notion that ironhanded accountability will ensure the outcomes we identify as desirable.