Fear is something we all face from time to time. Not the fear of leaping from a plane, or being confronted by a big scary spider! It’s a different sort of fear; the kind that makes you question your capabilities.
Stepping out of our comfort zones and into those areas unknown, where we don’t know if our brilliant idea will work, or the project we’ve pitched to the CEO is going to fail or fly, can be just as confronting.
It is normal to experience this feeling in these circumstances, and it’s not all bad. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is fear that can make you a great leader. If you can change your attitude towards fear, you may find that it spurs you on to some incredible outcomes.
Just take a look at the true value of fear.
Fear tells you you’re on the right track
You’ve planned out your project, pitched it to the boss and gathered your team to start work. It’s around this time you’ll start to feel the fear. Why? Because fear is the natural result of the decision to take action.
Whether this is the common fear of failure, or even the fear of success, if you’re not feeling it then there’s one of two things going on:
- You’re playing it safe and staying just inside your comfort zone
- Fear has the upper hand and is controlling you
Feeling the fear lets you know you’re on the right path, and you’re leading your team well. The outcome is likely to be good.
Fear keeps you focussed
Without fear, it is easy to forge ahead without planning or considering the consequences of your actions. Like a protective mechanism, feeling a little worried or concerned makes you stop and think.
It gives you the opportunity to consider potential outcomes, and the ability to handle or eliminate them before they arise. Fear has you thinking about the most appropriate steps to take, too.
“If this happens, what could I do?”
Fear shows you’re human
Allowing your fear to show in front of your team shows them that you’re human. It opens the doorway to a deeper level of communication and teamwork.
Our natural instinct is to suppress fear – to hide it and pretend all is going well. This can send the wrong message to your team. If you give them the impression that all is running smoothly, you are not doing them any favours. Just imagine their reaction if something really does go wrong. They will be shocked and unprepared, and probably take it out on you. Honesty and transparency is the best way to work with your team, and that includes letting them in on the not-so-good times.
The chances are that your team might be feeling fearful, too. That often happens when a big project launches or a change looms ahead. If they’re feeling the fear and see that you’re breezing along, it can cause discontent and rifts within the team are more likely to happen. At the very least, they will be mistrustful of you and disappointed that you don’t see what they see. Letting them know you’re feeling the fear too will show your human side. Knowing you’re human, they’re also more likely to provide you with the support you need to lead them to success.
There is no shame in fear, nor does it make you a weak leader. Strong leaders take action despite their fear and that’s what build team respect for you. So, to utilise a cliché, feel the fear and do it away!
Fear is just one of those things that makes you a great leader. Don’t be afraid of it.