Be a Courageous Leader:
Overcome Your Fears

Fears can take many forms: discomfort, incapacity, negative feelings, failure and self-criticism. And to some degree, they’re normal. But left unaddressed, fears make a leader ineffective and paralyzed. Courageous leaders overcome their fears; they learn from them, and put them in the past.

As with many aspects of leadership, the direct approach is best. Facing fears is no exception. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we craft a plan to deal with fears head-on. Here are a few thoughts and techniques to consider.

In Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, and Inspire Action on Your Most Important Work (Wiley, 2018), Peter Bregman encourages leaders to use fear as an incentive. By exposing your thoughts and perceived weaknesses to your coach, mentor or trusted colleague, a secret’s power is broken. Talking through your fears is therapeutic, and you may see how powerless they really are. Freedom eludes you when you bottle up your fears. Solutions are usually less complicated than you first perceive.

If appropriate, admit past fears to your staff—a move that can further reduce their impact. By being transparent and accountable, you’ll earn people’s admiration and avoid criticism or rejection. Strong leaders needn’t fear showing vulnerability if they deal with their fears directly and effectively. With experience, they realize their fears are generally overblown and far less powerful than originally thought.

Take the opportunity to deal with your fears directly and make much-needed leadership breakthroughs. For some people, it takes reaching an uncomfortable level of fear to prompt seeking assistance. In an odd way, consider this a positive step in the self-confidence journey.

There’s no reason to allow fear to debilitate you. Organizations run more effectively—and employees have greater regard for their jobs—when leaders have the courage to lead boldly.

What do you think? Have you overcome your fears? What techniques worked best for you? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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