There’s a lot said about the power and importance of fear, but it remains one of those emotions that we imagine leaders should avoid, a sign of weakness and hesitation. So macho, our leadership myths here in the US! But is fear really our enemy?
Chris Cancialosi reminds us, in Forbes Magazine blog, that fearless leadership is a myth. Now might be a great time to step into the expanded space that makes you feel a little fearful, whatever your leadership role might be. It will make you a better leader, if you can embrace it as a messenger, and move forward.
“Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that you’re pushing the envelope and doing things that take you out of your comfort zone. It means that you care enough about the livelihood of your organization that perceived threats to your sustainability cause an emotional reaction.
Dr. Joey A. Collins, Assistant Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Seattle Pacific University, says that “effective leaders demonstrate a high degree of self-awareness and are mindful of their feelings. It is not that they don’t feel fear – they do. They are just more aware of their fear and better able to process the threat that is signaling it.”
Robin Sharma writes “On the Other Side of Your Fears You’ll Find Your Confidence.”
“By doing what we’re afraid to do because it’s beyond our comfort zone, we grow in confidence. The increased confidence I have as a skier because I skied a new peak will translate to increased confidence as an entrepreneur and as a human being.”
Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
So, our leadership assignment, if we choose to accept it, is to pay attention to fear without letting it stop us from growing. As a coach, I’d say this: if fear is simply notifying you about the edge of your comfort zone, it’s worth pushing through. If it’s reminding you to look before you leap, look, then leap if you can! And if it’s insisting that you halt because of perceived danger, stop and do some research, especially if you’re a leader in an organization made up of people who may or may not follow you because of their own fearfulness.