5 Reasons Fear is a Good Trait in a Leader

5 Reasons Fear is a Good Trait in a Leader

Show me a leader who has no fear and I will show you a leader who is either not driving an organization forward, or one who is failing to properly identify the risks caused by their actions. Being afraid is a good thing. That is a statement that when made often returns puzzled stares of disbelief. We have been taught from the earliest stages of our careers that to be scared is to be weak; to be afraid is to admit vulnerability. Most would argue that these aren’t characteristics of great leadership. That I believe is very flawed thinking. I will offer five reasons why fear and its soul mate, vulnerability, are traits inherent in the most effective leaders.

One: Fear is the outcome of action.

Fear is triggered from a leader who pushing past their comfort zone either individually or organizationally. It signifies someone who is willing to confront their doubt and anxiety in order to advance the purpose and vision of the company. It is indicative of someone who is putting the betterment of the company ahead of his or her own self-interest.

Two: Fear is the enemy of the status quo.  

When we encourage our leaders to suppress feelings of worry, doubt and anxiety, we get stagnation in return. A leader who lacks the willingness to confront what frightens them will seek comfort in the known.  They will avoid risk and chance failing to take needed action.

Three: Fear creates heroes.

A leader who does not hide their apprehension or trepidation from their employees, and is willing to step off in front of them, that 100-foot pole into the unknown will earn huge street cred from their team. We are all too familiar with the overused axiom “to lead by example”. This is the definition of that act. This is a leader who is showing that it is not fear that is the issue. Rather it is becoming paralyzed by its grasp that should be avoided.

Four: Fear reduces burnout

Executive stress and burnout occurs far to often and is almost a pandemic in today’s business climate. It is a huge burden to bear to internalize fear, doubt and anxiety. When viewed as weakness or an affront to acceptable leadership comportment, the natural reaction is to suppress their existence. Doing so results in the alarmingly high rates of heart attack, high blood pressure, insomnia, divorce and countless other stress related afflictions.

Five: Fear makes you vulnerable, which in turn makes you human.

Fear can be found at every turn. There is the worry for one’s job, the concern of making a wrong decision and the fear of failing. Business is scary! Vulnerability is human. What is wrong with accepting these as fundamental truths? Can’t we allow the fear, doubt and anxiety that any diligent business leader possesses to see the light of day? I would rather work for a human who shares the same emotions that I feel, than a robot that is immune to such so called human frailties.

We should not be uncomfortable with a leader who is afraid. It is when that leader is unwilling or unable to push through that fear that we should be concerned.  A leader should embrace fear, but choose not to be paralyzed by its existence. He or she should be willing to be afraid, yet still take the needed action and drive past their fear. That is leadership!

I get scared and I am sure you do as well. I would love to hear about how you deal with your fear. Please leave comments below.

In our coaching program we work with business leaders to harness their fear to push through and move the business down the path towards the desired outcomes. To learn more click on the button below.  We are offering a free growth assessment tool. Click the button below for more information.

Thanks for reading.


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