It happens to leaders many times throughout their careers. It can begin popping its head out when they first begin their career journeys and re-emerge later on when they least expect it. Yes, even highly experienced leaders face this saboteur while executing routine leadership tasks. It’s funny how we don’t see it coming or maybe we even get so stuck in the middle of it that we freeze. What is this crazy devil? Nothing more than fear. There it is. Staring you right in the face.
I haven written about fear in many of my past leadership blogs, but something seems different now. Perhaps, what has changed is living through a chaotic pandemic that is lingering and still impacting the choices and decisions that some leaders are making. Other leaders have truly shaken it off and gone on to encounter new types of fear. It doesn’t really matter what may be causing leaders to be afraid. What is important is how each leader will take on this unrelenting chatter in their heads.
Five Pivots To Stop Fear From Paralyzing Your Leadership
1. Name The Fear
Start the journey of unraveling fear in your leadership by both acknowledging you are feeling afraid of something and understanding how it is showing up. Look inside and listen to your heart and body. Have you been experiencing physical reactions like headaches or sweaty palms? When do these symptoms appear and are you able to recognize when they are happening? Oftentimes, in those uncomfortable moments, leaders sense these bodily changes. The key is then to label what is causing them to feel fearful. One leader I worked with felt a lack of confidence to speak up and would just go along with their boss’s or team member’s ideas. Another leader was overwhelmed with their workload and couldn’t find a way to manage their daily routines.
2. Share The Fear With A Trusted Adviser
Sometimes it is very difficult for leaders to understand what they may be fearing so they choose a colleague, friend, boss or coach to help them. This can be a very rewarding action to take and process to follow. You know when you need to reach out for help when:
- There is “something” preventing you from making healthy decisions.
- You are feeling so stuck like being swallowed in quick sand.
- Your body isn’t standing up to ordinary daily actions and choices.
- The negative chatter in your ear is all consuming.
3. Try On A New Perspective
This action can be so much fun and enlightening. Think of an animal or a person who inspires you, famous or in your life. Become that animal or person and let them guide you through this fear. What would they say? What would they do? Looking at fear through a different and creative lens can help leaders see a new way of moving out of their paralysis. This can be an eye-opening experience to do with a coach.
4. Give It A Meaningful Goodbye
I believe that we can’t welcome in a way to face down our fear without having a proper goodbye. When we say goodbye to what is causing a leader to feel frustrated and paralyzed we are burying our fear. Some possible goodbyes might be:
- Writing or typing out the fear and then putting it away on a shelf or ripping the document up.
- Looking at yourself in a mirror and saying NO to living with that situation and feeling anymore.
- Announce to someone important in you personal or professional life that you are no longer going to allow this saboteur to impact your choices and decisions.
5. Commit To The New And Inspiring Leader
The final step in stopping fear from paralyzing your leadership is to commit to the new actions you are going to take. What will this new inspiring leader look like? How will you behave differently? What important lessons did you learn and are now eager to integrate into your leadership journey? Don’t forget to celebrate your success in stopping the fear so you can be the leader you want to be.
How have you stopped fear from paralyzing your leadership?