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I’m sure you’ve heard your share of quotes advising you how to deal with fear. One of the most famous, of course, comes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He reminded a Depression-wracked United States, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

So true, especially in the corporate world. But while FDR’s inspirational words can make you feel comfortable, even courageous, in the comfort of you office chair, the challenge is to face fear courageously when it catches you off-guard.

As a leader you have to find the courage to raise difficult issues as soon as they arise, take unpopular positions with the flak that follows, and make tough decisions that you know will put your immediate comfort behind the long-range goals of your team and the organization. Scary stuff, right?

What Are You Afraid Of?

Spiders, heights, the dentist, your mobile phone ringing in the middle of a eulogy… we all have fears we just can’t seem to defeat. But certain workplace fears are common to most of us.

  • Negative labels. Not being seen as a team player or earning a label of troublemaker, tattletale, or complainer.
  • Damaged relationships. The fear that if you speak up about certain issues, you will no longer be liked and become an outcast.
  • Exercises in futility. The feeling that speaking up might not make a difference. “Why bother?” “They don’t hear,” and “What’s the point?”
  • Negative consequences. Worry that if you speak up, you might lose a promotion, opportunity, or your job.
  • Injuring others. Concern about upsetting, embarrassing, or in some way harming another person in the organization and that they may feel threatened and become defensive.


Facing Your Fears

The courage to lead comes from Confidence in your abilities. Confidence comes from honest Self-knowledge. And Self-knowledge from Candor in Communication. We address and practice every link in this chain of Leader-as-Coach qualities at CoachQuest. But for now, let me leave you with another insight into courage. This one from one of the most courageous men I know. A man who faced real fears most of us will never have to confront.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
—Nelson Mandela


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.