Are you a fear-less leader?
I can remember reading about a study in which it was estimated that a substantial percentage of all senior executives make decisions based on fear.
It was a somewhat disquieting revelation in that it contradicted the long held belief that leaders were always cool and in control. As examples, have you ever seen a Clint Eastwood movie or watched Sean Connery making his Bond, James Bond introduction? The term ice in their veins immediately comes to mind. Yet, the truth be known, and in line with the axiom the higher you go in a corporation the closer to the exit door you become, seems to be the order of the day.
I guess that this is the reason why having courage is defined as not so much being the absence of fear but, an ability to perform despite being afraid.
In a recent HBR article by Peter Bregman, he made the observation that; “One of the defining characteristics of strong leaders is their ability to endure uncertainty and ambiguity,” and that leaders “are willing to move through shame and embarrassment and anxiety and fear.”
He then concluded that these “are the feelings of leadership as much as courage and persistence and faith.” I am inclined to agree with him and his assertion that because feelings of fear and uncertainty are ever present, “we need courage and persistence and faith.”
So what does this say regardless of whether you are a captain of industry or at the helm of your own personal brand?
Whenever I am dealing with a client who has expressed a reservation about their present career path or the uncertainty of their future, I remind them to reference their personal mission statement (if they have one).
With a well thought out mission statement, they have a familiar touchstone which reminds them of why they are doing what they do. They embrace the need to take the essential risks that are necessary for achieving their clearly defined goals.
In essence, a mission statement is like the rudder on a ship in that when you encounter the turbulent seas of uncertainty, you will be able to maintain control of your vessel and navigate through the storm. Or to put it another way, if you don’t know what you stand for or where you are going, it’s a lot more difficult to get there!
This doesn’t mean that you will not experience moments of anxiety. What it does mean is that despite the uncertainties, you will maintain your ability to respond to the changing winds of a challenging situation.
In fact, when we let fear propel us in the right way, we (1) commit to greater preparation, (2) take greater initiative in ‘thinking outside the box’ and (3) tap into a rich network for guidance and knowledge. This will help you emerge victorious in scary times.
In the end, when you face your fears, it is you who takes the lead in terms of your response and ultimately the outcome.