How many people do you know that live a life of defense? You know, the ones driven by fear of making mistakes. Better question, is that how you live?
Whether that description fits you or not, think for a minute and ask yourself the last time you willingly followed a “leader” that lived that way. When I describe that kind of person most of us would conjure up a picture of a person with eyes wide with fear, sweating, nervous and meek. Oh if it was only so!
We meet people all the time living in a defensive posture or better said, living a life full of fear. Maybe its a dictatorial manager acting more like a bully than a manager or the meek department head buried in his office with his fingers crossed that no one will arrive with bad news. In either case, fear is likely the driver for each.
Fear shows up in a variety of ways in our world today. Fear is a state of mind that can create a number of emotions or conditions, few of which are healthy for the leader or for those around him or her. So what is a leader to do with fear (since it occurs naturally for most), the answer is actually pretty simple – use it as a driver rather than an inhibitor. We all have a biological predisposition for fight or flight, and while neither in their purest form are necessarily healthy (unless the stakes are life or death), either one can be controlled, harnessed and use for positive benefit.
The key is in the word “controlled” – which is where it all starts. Interestingly enough, “control” is occurring one way or another. We either control our response to fear and choose our behavior, or fear controls our response and drives our behavior. The dictatorial manager that berates and micromanages her employees is likely acting out of fear (of some kind), just like the inspiring leader that is achieving high levels of follower engagement and positive business results. The difference between the two is a simple decision – control or be controlled. Unfortunately, too many lack the awareness to see the opportunity or the folly in their behavior.
We all know that fear resides within us, the question we need to ask ourselves (and maybe others about ourselves) is, what choice am I making?
Dealing with fear the right way really is pretty simple, just not always as easy as it is simple!