Leaders Need to Create Fearless Environments

It seems fitting that I’m writing this post on board a Dreamliner. I’m heading to Miami to participate in the Freedom at Work Summit. For three days, we will be exploring what many people dream about—what they were able to imagine and accomplish after overcoming their fears.

According to research, and in my experience, if that counts for anything, fear is one of the biggest reasons companies underperform and their employees are unhappy and disengaged. To get rid of fear, leaders need to create a safe-to-fail environment, where employees trust their leaders.

One common example of fear is the fear of losing. We have all seen sports stars reach a final, maybe for the first time in their career, and then play way below their potential. Sometimes, they just need to shake off the nerves; other times, they are so afraid of losing that they ironically end up doing just that because of it. Imagine all the employees that are afraid of losing their jobs and what that does to their “game”.

When people play not to lose, they employ a reactive mindset. They keep their head down, get by, and generally avoid speaking up, or sticking out. It does not have to be as extreme as the fear of losing one’s job. Many employees fear stepping on others’ toes, appearing to know-it-all, being yelled at, looking stupid, and, maybe the biggest of them all, the fear of speaking up.

On the other hand, when employees play to win they bring a proactive mindset, are much more creative, engaged, and eager to take responsibility for personal and organizational development and growth. In a faster and faster changing world, where creativity and adaptability is necessary for businesses to thrive and even survive, we need exactly that. We need to learn to overcome our fears and start playing to win—and that starts with the leaders. They need to show the way and create a trusting environment where people are not afraid to be their true selves.

Are you playing to win or to lose? Do you fear anything at work? Do you work in a trusting organization that encourages you to speak up?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts using the comments below, especially if you work for an organization that doesn’t encourage you to speak up and you have found the courage to do it anyways.

The WorldBlu Freedom at Work summit starts on Monday and I’ll make sure to keep you updated as I get wiser on how other organizations have discovered their full potential by getting rid of fear.

Image credit: unsplash.com

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