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4 Healthy Ways to Manage Leadership Fears and Doubts

Source | LinkedIn : By Lee Ellis

You’re in the midst of a situation or challenge that instills fear. What do you do? In the animal kingdom, fear produces a “fight or flight” response, and it’s true with people, too. But honorable leaders see fear coming and know how to handle it, right? Let’s explore this idea.

In last month’s leadership article, I discussed the dangers and challenges of power struggles in relationships. But realistically, the biggest challenge for many of us is going to be more subtle and internal—our doubts and fears. I use both terms because some people aren’t able to acknowledge their fears, but they will admit to having doubts. For most situations, I treat them equally because they’re often the same and both can undermine success.

Fear Roots and Causes

Beyond the obvious, fear is often at the root of emotions like anger, shame, guilt, and pride (false pride or hubris).

“Fear termites our self-confidence and torpedoes our personal and professional relationships, further undermining our success and goals.” [Tweet This]

Doubts and fears can also cause procrastination and resistance to reasonable and needed risk-taking, and stymie initiative to overcome obstacles and achieve success. How have other people managed fear in the past? I witnessed it firsthand.

Fear in the POW Camps

Pictured: One of the POW Camps in Vietnam.

As you might expect, fear in the POW camps of Vietnam was never more than one thought away. During my first three years when torture was an ongoing tactic, all it took were the sounds of rattling jailer keys at odd hours to create an avalanche of fear.

Even in the best times, isolation, loneliness, and poor health without medical care could raise doubts that could blossom into full-blown fear. In time, together we learned some tactics to combat doubts and fear that have universal application.

If you’re a leader in the midst of a challenge or battle, if your goals are being threatened, or if you’re not sure whether your new ideas will be accepted, be encouraged and take heart from the wisdom of the POW camps.

4 Tactics to Conquer Fears and Doubts

These tactics might be just what is needed to help take your fearful thoughts and actions captive and reach new milestones –

  1. Fear is Normal—Learn to Proactively Manage It.

Fear can help us deal with legitimate external threats as well as trigger adrenalin and other chemicals that help us. When my aircraft blew up over enemy territory—right over the gunners that were shooting at me—my fear of dying in the immediate crash helped me make the decision to eject immediately—even into the middle of the militia gunners below. As I was descending via a “nylon letdown”, my focus was not on my fear but on how I could escape capture.

Read On

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