How to take charge of your leadership fears

How to take charge of your leadership fears

Eliminate these crippling worries and anxieties to become an effective leader and achieve success.

The weight of responsibility sits squarely on a leader’s shoulder, and the pressure of being accountable for every action and decision can be intimidating at times. You need to be skilled at dealing with uncertainty and fear. To be effective you cannot let your emotions get the better of you—this includes your inner fears that lead to insecurity and inadequacy. Here are some ways to overcome your fears rather than trying to push yourself into becoming someone that you’re not.

Fear of failure
The weight of responsibility sits squarely on a leader’s shoulder, which often results in a high fear of failure. While failure is never a desired outcome, it is never the end of the line. In fact, failure for a lot of successful entrepreneurs was the first stepping-stone in their journey towards success. World-famous entrepreneurs and businessmen Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates have taught us that it’s okay to fail. Sometimes failure is the best thing that can happen to you! There often isn’t any success without failure, otherwise how else will you learn what not to do? As a leader, you cannot let fear rule your mind—during a crisis or even otherwise. You need to remain calm and weigh all the odds and take practical decisions in the face of uncertainty. This can only happen if you’ve made peace with failure and understood its inherent value in the larger scheme of things.

Owning imperfections
Leaders are driven and often find it difficult to accept their flaws. But being bound to idealistic standards and managerial perfectionism can be dangerous. Accept that you cannot always be perfect, embrace your flaws and mistakes as a part of being human. Rather than being a perfectionist and expecting the same from your employees, be honest and reassure them. Be upfront with them so that they know what they can expect from you— strengths and shortcomings. Showing your vulnerability, your humanness, will help you gain their respect and trust.

Being accessible all the time
This hyper-connected world feeds into leaders’ fear that they never have enough time to give to their work, colleagues, employees, etc. They often don’t realise that it isn’t about being accessible 24/7, but rather about maximising the impact of the time that they do have. Leaders should be seen as being reliable, that they are there to offer/find solutions, give perspective and provide guidance when needed. But this doesn’t mean they should drop everything and be available 24/7 to address employee problems. If they do then they will become a crutch for employees, who will stop thinking of themselves and finding solutions on their own. The trick is to guide and support while setting clear boundaries about when and how you will engage with them.

Fear of criticism
Criticism is an essential ingredient for success as it is an opportunity to gain a different perspective and insight. It is also a way others can hold you accountable for your actions. Leaders who are willing to accept criticism are better equipped to foster open dialogue that can be later leveraged. When shared in a constructive way, criticism will not stand in the way of growth, and embracing it will prove to be the key to your success. It is said that leaders who acknowledge and accept criticism and feedback gain more trust from their subordinates. So view criticism as an opportunity, not a sign of your failure.

Photograph: Katemangostar –