I have been amazed this week about how powerfully leadership can shift when we are willing to let go of the fear of being ourselves.
I have many clients who talk about being in senior meetings where the focus is on what’s wrong, what’s not working, what is not liked. There is an atmosphere of tension, especially fearfulness of speaking out and then being vilified for going ‘against the consensus’ or indeed the person at the top. For some they are back into imposter syndrome, believing they need to ‘perform’ to be liked, keep their job or even just keep the boss happy.
The thing is, I think when we are in fear of making a mistake, saying or doing the wrong thing – there’s no freedom in that, no creativity, no innovation, no collaboration. What is certain is falseness, stress (sometimes to the point of physical illness), collusion, disgruntled employees, resentment and all too frequently bullying.
Operating out of fear is defending a position. It’s not focusing on a company’s aspirational values or behaviour. It’s not focused on creating a first class service or product and how that’s going to be achieved. It’s an extremely fearful place to defend at all costs or else we might be humiliated, found out or lose our job.
I mean after all who cares? We’re getting the results right? To the outside world we’re successful, performing.
I know for some clients this culture of fear has resulted in people leaving, having breakdowns, marital problems (through working such long hours) or just having the life and light zapped out of them through sheer mental strain or resignation.
I think the extremely disturbing and sad thing is, what about the bigger picture here for humanity? How did we get into accepting it’s ok for people to be so stressed out at work that they are physically ill or having mental health problems?
Every person participates in keeping this going every time they say nothing, don’t challenge or don’t behave any differently. And so it goes on and on and on.
There is a different way, a different way to be – to shift the culture. What about shifting the focus to what IS working, what IS good, what the company wants to create and how they are going to get there.
Then what you can have is a development plan in the making, something to aspire to…to create…to motivate…to change lives…to inspire!
The good news it only takes one person to behave differently, to create the possibility of a different perspective.
Will it be you?
Here are a few questions for you…food for thought:
What are you participating in and not speaking up about?
What are the fear(s) stop you from doing so?
Would be willing to let go of at least one of your fears right now?
What’s the worst that could happen?