Tuesday, March 17, 2009


In our Leadership Workshops, Gail and I often address fear. We believe it is important that leaders let their followers know that leaders also experience fear and it is normal. Leaders feel fear just like everyone else. They just do a better job of acknowledging the fear and moving forward in spite of it. Every leader finds their own way past fear. Some fake it, some look it in the eye and sneer at it, some singularly focus on a goal to block it out, but they all get past it.

There is a good article today in the WSJ regarding stress which touches on fear. Katherine Muller, who does psychology training at the Montefiore Medical Center is quoted as saying, "We'd say, 'I understand your fear, but fear is not a fact. Let's look at the reality in your life.'" Leaders must be particularly sensitive to people's fears during these economically uncertain times. People are worried about their futures and their children's futures.

Leaders must be more communicative and get their people focused on working the process so they can acknowledge their fears and move on. As best as I can tell, worrying never made anything better. In fact, it makes things worse. Worrying leads to less sleep, less of an appetite, and more stress. The article also speaks to stress in a succinct way. It is a very good read for all, especially leaders. Leaders can then help others deal with the fear, worry and stress.

Cheers, Mike


  1. Mike,
    Great post and WSJ article. Your comment that leaders move forward in spite of the fear makes me think of first responders such as fire fighters, police officers and soldiers.
    Fire Fighters feel fear when they are about to walk into a burning building. But they still go into the building.
    Training (they know how to do this) and Leadership (they are following a competent leader).
    Mike and I know Col. Kolditz who is responsible for leadership training at West Point. His book In Extremis Leadership discusses this in more detail. He even addresses the horrible consequences if the leader is not competent and lives are lost, not just money.
    I loved your ending. Leaders can help others deal with the fear, worry and stress.
    Leaders move forward in spite of the fear and get others to do the same.

  2. Gail, thanks for the comment.We may have to use different names so people think others are actually commenting.