Fear is one of those feelings that most leaders try to work around or at least keep it at bay. Yet when working with leaders of all levels, we often discuss the many situations that cause leaders to be concerned and even frightened. Yes even seasoned leaders who have strong backgrounds and skills can be thrown off their game sometimes. Some of the comments I hear are:
“I’ve done this exercise a thousand times, so why do I feel worried that it won’t work?”
“I have worked with this department on successful projects before, yet this one feels differently to me.”
“My boss thinks so highly of me that I don’t want to let her down.”
“I really need to update my skills before I can even create an outline on this topic.”
Whether our fears come from childhood or uncomfortable experiences in our careers, leaders can successfully work to alleviate them.
Six leadership game plans to overpower fear:
1. UNDERSTAND WHERE THE FEAR COMES FROM
For leaders to deal with their fears their first game plan must be to first acknowledge them and see where they originated. One young leader I work with had a difficult relationship with his father and as a result feared dealing with people in authority. Every boss or seasoned team member became a threat and someone to keep at a distance. Another leader missed an important issue on a project and became fearful of stepping up to accepting stretch work assignments. Whatever the fear- admit it and take time to see how it has impacted your job or career.
2. REFRAME THE FEAR
A very helpful game plan to override the fear impacting our decisions and actions is to think of it differently. Reframing is a healthy and productive way to swap out a negative thought for a useful perspective. Ask these questions to help reframing the fear:
- What is the truth about the fear?
- What lessons did I learn to do things differently?
- If I were to rewrite the fear in a positive way, what would it sound like?
- What factors were beyond my control and how did I contribute?
3. DEVELOP A GOAL ACTION PLAN
The next powerful game plan is to decide how we want to move forward. We need to write out clear goals and objectives to squash out the fear. Be specific and choose actions that are measurable and achievable. When leaders have a clear action plan to make a change they are more likely to put their fears on the back burner.
4. CREATE A LIST OF YOUR STRENGTHS
An empowering game plan to help us put the fear in its proper place is to remind ourselves of our talents and strengths. If leaders begin to whittle down their fears by recognizing their “super powers” they will always come out on top.
- Pull out successful past projects, observing your achievements
- Ask team members or colleagues what they see as your most important contributions
- Identify why you were promoted or given additional responsibilities
- Focus on the positives in your career
5. ADDRESS AREAS OF CHALLENGE
We can’t overlook our blind spots and things we may need to improve on. The game plan with our challenges is to acknowledge them and figure out ways to learn and grow. Don’t obsess. Just take note and commit to learning a new skill or having a new experience.
6. WORK WITH AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
A final game plan is to find a person we trust and who knows our abilities and meet with them to hammer out ways to overpower the fears. Whether we partner with someone at work or an individual in one of our volunteer communities, it is important to have someone hold us accountable.
- Set up consistent meeting times
- Work on areas that make us feel uncomfortable
- Listen to advice without judging
- Rejoice in the successes of stemming the fears
What additional leadership game plans have helped you overpower fear?
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