People often experience fear and concern over what is happening or not happening as they perceive it. As a leader, how do you manage fear?
A good piece of advice from Olivia Blanchard chief economist of the IMF was: “first and foremost, reduce uncertainty….Above all, adopt clear policies and act decisively”. When people have a clear mission then they can transform anxiety into action and productivity.
People need the opportunity, a warning as it were, so they can put themselves in the right frame of mind. When people are aware there is a looming disaster or threat prepare themselves better and become more resilient.
To help your team master their fear, and to use it judo-like to their and your benefit, help them by taking these three steps:
- Recognize that you and they are afraid – if you can’t be honest with yourself and them about this then you can’t expect them to be. Being prepared to admit you are afraid and ready to face your fear is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It also stops people from letting the fear fester causing their energy and self-confidence to be eroded.
- Frame the situation as an opportunity – this helps people to think more innovatively and creatively. To quote “When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities” In changing times what got you here won’t get you there. You need to get different results, and to get different results you need to behave and think differently. As Einstein put it “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
- Develop a sense of urgency – help them use and focus their liberated energy and enthusiasm to take action and get some “quick wins” whilst building for the longer-term.
Fear is only in our mind, so use your mind to “throw” it to your advantage. By doing you also help others to do the same for themselves and become more resilient, flexible and adaptable in the process.
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