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Strategic Ways To Manage Fear As A Leader

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2 months ago

Getting elected or promoted into a leadership role is an exciting venture. We get the opportunity to make an impact with our vision for an organization or a team.

We also get the opportunity to directly impact the lives of those we work with. But because we have a huge impact on a variety of entities around us that can produce fear and anxiety.

When I first became a union leader, I was pre-occupied with fear of failure.

Yes, I was excited to have gotten elected into a role that meant changing the way things were done for the betterment of my team members, which I’ve accomplished.

But it also meant I could possibly make massively mistakes that can cost the livelihoods of my team members.As I became seasoned within my leadership role, the fear subsided. It did pop up every now and again when I faced a new situation.

Seeking out tools and mentors helped immensely, however, and I picked up some valuable insights to helping me tackle fear as a leader.

Here are a few.

Be Decisive

Some days it’s not going to be apparent what the right decision is — make a decision anyway.Indecision is a huge generator of fear within leadership because it sends a signal of mistrust to our subconscious minds.

We spend time overthinking everything detail then end up in a never ending loop or oscillation between two or more choices.

Understand this, decision-making within the scope of leadership often comes down to choosing between two crappy options. And you have to make peace with that.

Some days it’s not going to be apparent what the right decision is — make a decision anyway. Because you’ll be sending signals of confidence to your subconscious mind.

And soon enough you’ll be on your way to fearless leadership despite the good or bad decisions you make.

How do you do this? By making a decision and making it quick. The more time we spend trying to dig through every nook and cranny for information, the more likely we are to make a bad decision. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill said:

“Analysis of several hundred people who accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly and of changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed.”

In this example, he used money as a metric for success when making quick decisions. But it’s all the same no matter which metric we use.

Be decisive. And make it quick.

Embrace Your Weaknesses Or Change Them

When I was a union steward, my weakness was lack of empathy. I sought out a mentor, an elder steward, that taught me the importance of seeing things from the other side.

As a leader, you have an above average level of awareness.

Turn that awareness on yourself, audit your talents and weaknesses and make peace with them. Any weaknesses you have, do your best to address them a little at a time. But don’t become emotional about them. Mike Krzyzewski said:

“During critical periods, a leader is not allowed to feel sorry for himself, to be down, to be angry, or to be weak. Leaders must beat back these emotions.”

For example, instead of harping over a particular weakness, hire a coach to work at it week after week. Soon, that weakness might evolve into a strength.

And even if it doesn’t, at least you’re better than you were weeks ago.

It all boils down to acting within your scope of control. If you lack control over changing a specific weakness and you’ve done all you can do about it, move on.

Focus on your strengths instead.

When I was a union steward, my weakness was lack of empathy. I sought out a mentor, an elder steward, that taught me the importance of seeing things from the other side.

Eventually, I’ve gotten better at empathy and it drastically improved my negotiation skills as a steward.

Ultimately, once you have your weaknesses under control, fear of making mistakes due to these weaknesses will go away because you’ve done something to address them.

That’s all you can ask for.

Negative Visualization

I would imagine making mistakes that would cost a team member a job. Then I would get out of my head, into my body and do everything in my power to make wise decisions to prevent that from happening.

What’s the worst that can happen? Think about the worst thing that can happen to you as a leader or simply focus on what it is that you fear.

Sit with it.

When I was a union steward, I use to imagine the worst possible outcomes. But instead of letting it eat away at me, I made a practice of snapping back to reality and living in the moment.

I would imagine making mistakes that would cost a team member a job. Then I would get out of my head, into my body and do everything in my power to make wise decisions to prevent that from happening.

This is a metaphysical approach that the stoics used. William B. Irvine said:

“Negative visualization, in other words, teaches us to embrace whatever life we happen to be living and to extract every bit of delight we can from it. But it simultaneously teaches us to prepare ourselves for changes that will deprive us of the things that delight us. It teaches us, in other words, to enjoy what we have without clinging to it.”

Negative visualization works because you eventually become desensitized to that particular fear-thought.

And most importantly, shying away from the fear-thought only strengthens it.

By taking the opposite approach — by going through the fear-thought — you learn to appreciate where you are in the present and make decisions from that position.

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Comments

It seems some promising to get rid of fear. Great btw.

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