Have you ever been afraid? If you’re like most of us, you’ve experienced fear taking on many forms and disguises in your daily life. Fear of not measuring up, fear of looking uninformed, and fear of public speaking are only a few that paralyze many leaders. You wouldn’t be a conscientious leader if you didn’t experience some anxiety; the point is to manage it with healthy behavior.
I recently read an article that explored how Bill Gates, Bill Branson and Mark Zuckerberg conquer their fears. Many of their strategies mirror behaviors consistent with transparent leadership. Here are a few examples I liked in particular:
Fear of fraud
It’s tempting to overstate outcomes and metrics to help your case with employees to boost morale or with clients to clinch a much-wanted partnership. Believe me, I could have used some exaggeration when I inherited a plummeting stock price as a new CEO, but truth-telling is what helped us turn things around. Gates, Branson and Zuckerberg stress that you shouldn’t stretch the truth so far beyond reality that you lose credibility. Once credibility is lost, you’ll be doubling your efforts indefinitely to earn it back. tweet this
Fear of embarrassment
Gates, Branson and Zuckerberg also say that entrepreneurs are proud people and hate to be shamed in public. I would add that anyone hates to be shamed in public. After all, who wants to be embarrassed in front of their peers or employees? They clarify that showing a healthy amount of humility is the best way to earn the respect you crave. I would be hard pressed to think of a time when humility wasn’t well-received.
Fear of leadership
These entrepreneurs believe that leadership can weigh heavily on a person, more so than being a boss or starting a company. Gates, Branson and Zuckerberg recommend you “study, listen and sacrifice to make sure the people who follow are continuously inspired, motivated, and rewarded for their efforts.” A leader who genuinely listens to her people is a leader who has more confidence. Guessing what your people need from you only adds to anxiety and leads you right back to where you started.
Think about the fears I’ve mentioned today or one that you personally experience. Consider the root of your fear and how you might make peace with it by engaging in one of the transparent behaviors I’ve highlighted above. To paraphrase a great leader, Nelson Mandela: A brave leader is not someone who doesn’t feel fear but someone who conquers that fear. What’s more, when you conquer that fear, you make room for inspired leadership.
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