Why It’s Essential for Leaders to Embrace their Fear Factor

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Whoever coined the phrase “fearless leader” must not have been a leader.

Because “fear” and “leadership” go together hand in hand.

Talk to any effective leader and they will tell you that fear has been a lifelong companion on their leadership journey. Anytime you push the envelope, launch a new initiative, or stake out new territory, you can be sure there will be an element of fear involved.

So, if every leader faces the Fear Factor, why is it that for some leaders fear can stop them cold in their tracks, but for others it propels them forward?

In short, it’s because effective leaders have learned the 4 positive ways that the Fear Factor can enhance your leadership.

What are those positive sides to a leader’s fear?

1.   Fear is a positive signal that you’re moving forward

If you want to avoid fear, just stay where it’s most comfortable.

But if you want to move yourself, your church, or your organization forward, count on encountering moments of fear. And recognize it as a signal that things are happening.

2.   Fear can sharpen your leadership instincts

In moments of fear, all of your senses become sharpened. Your mind begins to work more quickly. You process information at an accelerated rate. Some of your best leadership thinking could come when you’re out on the edge.

3.   Fear can draw support

When you stand in front of your people and say, “Gang, we’re moving into exciting territory now and there are great opportunities ahead of us. But I don’t mind admitting to you, I’m a bit scared in all of this,” you are being an authentic leader.

Watch as your team rallies around you in response.

4.   Fear can keep you humble

The root of a lot of many leader’s fears is the uncertainty in their own abilities. “Can I actually pull this off?”

It takes humility to admit you’re unsure. And that humility will take you a long way in your leadership.

So as you consider your next bold leadership move, don’t shrink back if you feel the sensation of fear creeping in.

Instead, embrace the Fear Factor.

It could be telling you that you’re heading in the right direction.

How do you deal with the Fear Factor in your leadership?

 

 

 

 

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

3 comments

  1. Scott, would you put the looming “fear of man” in this same embracing category? As a leader the thoughts of “what are they thinking about me” can drive a performance or press leaders into loneliness. Perhaps there is a different embracing approach for this type of fear?

  2. Hey Cory- wow, what a great question. I resonate with that question because by nature I’m a “people pleaser”, and leaders with this trait tend to view every decision thru the lens of “what will people think of me?” In other words, it’s easy to replace “What’s the RIGHT thing to do?” with “What’s the POPULAR thing to do?”

    To respond to your question, I would say this is not so much a ‘fear’ as it is a character issue that leaders, including me, have to face every day.

    Thanks for weighing in.

  3. Thanks for a great response. Perhaps a future blog topic can be this dilemma? The inner-battle of pleasing the crowd or having an attitude that doesn’t care about them at all. Or perhaps you’ve already written one? Love your wisdom, thanks!

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