13 Tips on How to Lead When You’re Afraid

On Friday the 13th, millions of people experience friggatriskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13. This fear causes some to take extra care, be it ardently avoiding a black cat’s path, steering clear of travel or life events, and in some cases, blaming the date itself for common misfortunes like flat tires or losing a cellphone.

We have no advice for the superstitious, but we do understand the real, everyday fears that leaders have when it comes to running a business. Ease your mind on this long-held superstitious day by facing these 13 fears head on–and take some comfort from our leadership experts with proven advice on how to overcome them.

1. “Our team isn’t on the same page.” 

Solution: To get a team or organization on the same page, effective leaders must define fewer, measurable, and memorable goals that every individual can remember. They key here is keeping it simple.

2. “Not being able to keep up with the pace of change, which is accelerating every year.” 

Solution: Leaders who succeed and overcome challenges know that the secret lies in purposefully managing their workplace culture. Not only does culture produce results, but culture is not something written in stone. As outside challenges arise, an organization’s culture can evolve to overcome them.

3. “I lack the skillset to be a great leader.” 

Solution: Skillset, by definition, implies consistent development through experience, practice, and understanding. Strong leaders never stop learning. They acquire new skills and even learn to adapt their leadership style to lead more effectively.

4. “Employees won’t buy in to where the business is heading.” 

Solution: Getting everyone on board and securing employee buy in to an organization’s direction, goals, and results is no easy feat. The leaders who do this best utilize positive accountability to define what success looks like and maintain open communication.

5. “The competition will pass us by with better services, products, or pricing.”

Solution: The truth is that some companies with good products and strategy don’t succeed. The best organizations are not the best because of products and services alone; they’re the best because they have built a strong workplace culture. At the end of the day, to outsmart the fox (in this case, the competition) you need an aligned, creative, and focused workforce.

6. “We can’t change our mindset from the way we have always done things.” 

Solution: Every individual in an organization comes with a set of beliefs based on a variety of experiences and emotions. Beliefs, like old habits, are hard to change–but not impossible. How? Changing mindsets starts with asking for feedback and creating new experiences.

7. “My team doesn’t trust me as a leader.”

Solution: Earning trust as a leader doesn’t happen overnight. Great leaders take time to build trust and credibility through collaboration, communication, and care.

8. “Being unable to attract talent and/or hire the right people to achieve results we want with efficiency and effectiveness.” 

Solution: The answer involves doing something that most hiring managers don’t do first, if at all: evaluate a candidate’s cultural fit even before his or her skills set. Hiring for culture allows companies to quickly bring new recruits up to speed, achieve results faster, and reach their highest potential.

9. “Having a company culture that does not attract/retain the millennial workforce.”

Solution: This fear comes as no surprise with millennials having officially surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the American workforce. The trick for leaders to attract/retain millennial talent is to clearly define the company’s purpose while also providing challenges and growth opportunities.

10. “We can’t manage company culture because culture is unknowable.” 

Solution: The pervasive myth that culture is unknowable, or that a leader can’t directly impact or shape culture, is exactly the thing that holds an organization back. Learn from the best and explore How 3 Top Executives Successfully Implemented Organizational Culture Change.

11. “Keeping up with the pace required to develop new products without sacrificing quality.” 

Solution: In business, as in life, people tend to make mountains out of molehills–so your job as a leader is to find the simplest solution to seemingly complex problems. In this case, leaders can define the right pace to develop new products without sacrificing quality by establishing clear expectations and measurable results from the start. Do a robust analysis of exactly what those growth targets are so you can set realistic expectations for your team.

12. “I am going to lose my top performers.”

Solution: Losing a top-performing employee can certainly set a company back. The key is to shape a culture that encourages personal development, defines a career path through succession planning, and ultimately helps employees reach their potential so they never want to leave. This will also create a culture which enhances employee engagement.

13. “We’re not going to meet our numbers.”

Solution: In truth, most employees, from top management to the frontline, want to meet expectations and achieve results. When they don’t, it often because they don’t know exactly what the company is trying to accomplish. The fix is simple: Get clear about the three to four Key Results that your company must achieve. This helps you cut through the noise and focus your team on the things that matter most.

Thank you to all Partner In Leadership’s contributing experts: Jennifer Goddeau, Gaye Van Den Hombergh, Jared Jones, Vince Martinez, Ryan Millar, Mattson Newell, Robert Pothier, and Brad Starr.

Read the original article published on Inc. Magazine: 13 Leadership Fears to Overcome on Friday the 13th

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