Fear in leadership can be healthy, but it can also be crippling.
As the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Every leader is going to experience fear in their life. What defines their leadership is how they surmount those fears.
Here are seven fears leaders must overcome.
Constructive criticism is vital to growing as a leader. However, you will encounter individuals who want to criticize every decision you make. Be sure to never take anything personally. Listen to what the individual is telling you and then evaluate the context and appropriateness of the critique. If you base your decisions on the fear of being criticized, you will never accomplish anything.
Every leader is going to make mistakes. Not every project you oversee is going to be perfect. Learn to embrace failure and use it as fuel to keep going. Remember, the process is important. Reflect on what went wrong and move forward. You don’t get where you want to be overnight, and sometimes you have to fail before you reach your goal.
3. Making Decisions.
When presented with various answers for a decision, you may fear picking the wrong one. Start by eliminating the ones that won’t benefit your organization. Ask yourself questions about what will happen if you make a specific choice. Finally, be confident in your decision. If you allow it, your inability to decide will harm your leadership.
4. Falling Short.
Many leaders set standards for themselves that they can’t achieve. A major reason for this may be that you are comparing yourself to other leaders. Stay in your lane. Recognize what you can accomplish, but don’t be afraid to stretch yourself as well.
Every action will have a reaction. Evaluating your decisions is necessary to reduce any negative effects of your choices. Nevertheless, you can’t allow your fear of possible consequences to keep you from leading effectively.
6. Taking Risks.
Leadership involves taking risks. Effective leaders are always looking for opportunities to move forward and advance their organizations. The most innovative leaders in our world – like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Bill Gates – have been willing to take risks. However, be wary of unnecessary risks that could be detrimental to your organization. Your goal should always be to improve rather than cause harm.
7. Speaking Out.
If you are an introvert or a people pleaser, you may find it difficult to speak out in certain situations, particularly in large groups. However, as a leader, you have to overcome this fear. Your teams look to you for guidance. Be bold and learn to step out of your comfort zone. If you avoid speaking out when you should, you could end up doing more damage.
It’s never easy to confront your fears. You may need to recognize that some of your fears won’t go away overnight. It may be a process before you are able to overcome them – and that’s okay. You have to first be aware of any hindrances that could impair your ability to lead others. By recognizing there are fears leaders must overcome, you can work to begin conquering them and moving forward in your leadership.