Turn Fear into Power to Build Better Team

 Being afraid of doing something is not particularly an ideal state of mind to engage in any kind of activity. However fear of failure is also a strong motivation to make better preparation, craft more efficient plan of actions, and devise smarter exit strategy. All business ventures and undertakings come with risk of losses, but there is a way to take advantage of “fear” and turn it into power to build better team. As a matter of fact, the ability to take control of seemingly-unwelcome situations and transform it into constructive attribute is among the most obvious trait people see in a great leader.

 Unfriendly situations force you to develop and be creative

 As the project is approaching an imminent deadline yet there are still a lot of things to do, a leader is the first to demonstrate willingness to increase work intensity. A leader shows how to get things done and propose brilliant ideas to finish the job well. The fear of missing the deadline makes you think harder, prioritize only the most important, and ignore distractions. In some ways, “being afraid” is the way that human body prepares for uncomfortable circumstances ahead. Fear can be an efficient motivator.

 Admittance of fear can come a long way to build loyalty

 The whole idea is NOT to “lead by fear” in which employees are under constant pressure to perform with perfection otherwise they’ll be humiliated, penalized, or even fired. It is the exact opposite; fear is meant to build common ground among leader and employees. It is about creating a work environment where leader understands that the tasks at hand have many rooms for errors. Everyone works together to overcome the challenges, knowing they have the supports from the leader regardless of the outcome.

 As a leader, you are often told to appear invincible in front of employees. Being invincible is impossible; you have fears and you can fail, but you can be courageous about it. By admitting to the employees about how difficult the obstacles will be and failure is always a possibility, you take the first step to induce the sense of unity in a team; you are both leader and part of the working team. The admittance also displays high level of trust, which encourages employees to do their jobs with higher confidence. If dealing with fearsome challenges is not a scary thing to do, the workplace becomes more comfortable environment too.

 In the eyes of the employees, you are a realistic leader who understands the difficulties they may encounter. The admittance, in addition to being a sign of trust, demonstrates readiness at the same time. In short trust and readiness are the natural byproduct of the fear you have.

 Common fear binds the team together

 “Leadership by fear” is one sided, meaning only the employees experience the dreadful feeling while leader exercises the power to determine the consequences of falling short of expectations. When leader shares the same feeling, on the other hand, fear turns into a positive attribute that bounds the team together. Everybody in the team must be on the same page, and that includes the leader. The fear of failure “as an organization” is a strong driving force behind effective teamwork. It is always about creating a collective effort in which everyone contributes to collective success. Individual accomplishment is appreciated, but it is only a portion of a larger-scale achievement.

 Remember trust if the glue of all relationships. Trust must be given first to people around you in order to get it. Relationships are fragile! So, treat each human interaction with kindness and respect. It is harder to fix relationships that were broken due to use of fear, coercion, or disrespectful actions. Employees can make mistakes, but it is best to build loyalty by being loyal to your employee all the time. They will most likely be loyal to you if you don’t waive in supporting their success. Lead by example. Be open to new ideas of employees, and always listen with an open mind.

 Avoid using fear as part of your leadership style. People will always remember how you make them feel. Leaders have the biggest influence over the organization’s culture. When people feel safe to share ideas, take risks and be their authentic self—free of judgement and fear, then they will most likely take actions that benefit the organization.

 Make good choices and have a great day! Only you get to choose how you feel about it!

Thanks so much for reading! Please share this article with someone you care about. 

 Dr. Paul Gerhardt is a tenured professor of management. He is a diversity and leadership well-respected and trusted trainer who helps organizations get amazing returns on their training investment. Dr. Gerhardt is the author of several publications available on Amazon.com, including Diversity at Work, The Diversity King; Leadership Lucy and the Leadership Handbook. Consider inviting Dr. Paul Gerhardt to do customized leadership or diversity training at your organization. Most organizations find that diversity and leadership training by the right trainer yields a significant instant return on investment. You can get your FREE COPY of the Leadership Handbook by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/LeadershipHandbook


Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.

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