It is not an uncommon observation since the events of 9/11 that fear seems to be more than a commonplace in the American society. Fear has become a leadership and management tool in my opinion and it appears that leaders at all levels have used those catastrophic events as a tool to get what they want. Yes, it has always been there but my belief is that many of those in power and authority have turned fear into a leadership art form.
Deming states that “effective leaders must be committed to driving fear out of our workplaces.” I would add to this statement is that is not only true for business, but true in our institutions, government and communities. While this is a seemingly rationale and simple concept to grab on to, it appears to be rather hard to accomplish in multiple settings. Why worry about it you might ask? Well, when fear is present, individual self confidence is tough to maintain and achieve. Fear keeps you off balance, makes you unsure of yourself and others around you. Even one’s faith is challenged. Fear, unabated, becomes a self fulfilling prophecy by causing us to lose our convictions, our confidence and we don’t believe in ourselves. When it happens to individuals, it spreads throughout the entire organization; we cease to hold to the basic principles that bring us together as people, as a company or as a nation. Fear keeps us from asking why? How? Is there a different way? We find fear creates a blame culture with no room for mistakes or errors and all trust is lost. Intolerance is born, creativity is lost and problem finding replaces problems solving.
Successful organizations embrace continual improvements. Leaders are solution oriented and best practice driven. They engender what is most important in the business, organization or institution by sharing a meaningful, exciting vision of what can be and the purposes that will be served by it. Great organizations play confidently, positively and optimistically on the strengths of their people regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. They know that mistakes occur, that bad things happen but success comes when the glass is half full. Change within difficult circumstances are embraced and learned from, new solutions evolve and an overriding belief that we can accomplish and do whatever we say we will do- without fear.