Overcoming The Fear To Lead
Let’s dismantle the notion that fear is bad. Fear is not bad at all. Feeling afraid means perhaps we are embarking on something new. We can take our feelings of fear as a sign we are growing personally and professionally.
Problems arise when we let fear, self-doubt, and negative voices control us. A recent study revealed almost 70% of managers are afraid to speak with their employees.
We can overcome the fear to lead. Below are three strategies to help us overcome our fear and be the best leaders possible.
One of the best ways we can cut through the negative mental chatter is through a technique called labeling.
Consider the following:
- Give The Voice A Name – When we label the negative voice in our heads, we control it; instead of it controlling us. For example, let’s say there is a lot of negative self-talk happening in our minds. We can name this negative self-chatter something we don’t like to eat, like broccoli. Then, when we are aware of the negative mental chatter, we can say, “This is the broccoli talking. I will stop, put this broccoli on another plate and reframe my thinking, so it is more positive.”
- Reframe Thinking – Once we’ve labeled the negative thought, we need to reframe our thinking. For example, one way to do this is to use the word yet. If we have a negative thought telling us we don’t know how to lead a meeting, we can reframe it by saying, we don’t know how to lead a meeting yet. In this way, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn. We may not know how to do something right now, but we can learn how to do it in the future.
- Turn Negatives Into Positives – Turning negatives into positives can take away the control negative chatter has. For example, one way to turn negatives into positives is to focus on what we learned. Suppose we gave a presentation that didn’t go well. We can reflect on it and focus on what we learned. Maybe we realized we need to check out the meeting room early to ensure the proper cables are available for our setup. Or we learned we need to write a few notes down in our notebook just in case we lose our train of thought. Turning negatives into positives will help quiet the negative chatter in our minds.
Labeling our negative self-talk can help us dismantle the control it has over us.
2. Boost Confidence
Overcoming the fear to lead requires us to boost our confidence. There are many ways we can increase our confidence and become the leader we know we can be.
Consider the following:
- Prepare – One of the most important things we can do to boost our confidence is to prepare. For example, if we are about to lead a meeting with our team, we will want to prepare ahead of time. This could mean ensuring we know each person’s name and job title. We could also practice what we plan to say during the meeting. Preparing will give us confidence when we walk into the room.
- Positive Affirmations – Positive affirmations are a great way to boost our confidence. For example, before we give a presentation, we can talk to ourselves like we’ve already done a great job. We can say, “We nailed the presentation. We went through all of our talking points. We weren’t nervous. We did a great job!” Positive affirmations can help boost our confidence as we lead a team.
- Recognize Our Strengths – Most people are quick to point out all of their shortcomings and much slower to point out their strengths. To overcome our fear of leading, we need to recognize our strengths. This will also help us boost our confidence. For example, think about the things we do easily. Maybe public speaking comes naturally to us. Or, perhaps, we are excellent at negotiating contracts. Recognizing what we are good at will give us a boost of confidence.
Boosting our confidence can go a long way when overcoming our fear to lead.
3. Clear Communications
Being afraid can create communications friction. In other words, our message intention doesn’t match its impact. As a leader, it is critical for our team to understand what we need them to do. Clear communications will help us do this.
Consider the following:
- Tone And Body Language – Our tone and body language can significantly impact how the audience receives our message. When communicating with our team, we want to ensure our message intent matches the impact. For example, we can make sure we are utilizing positive body language. This means sitting up straight with our shoulders back. We need to consider our tone of voice. We can ensure we have enough breath to support our voice. Often, when we are nervous or scared, we take shallow breaths, which can impact our voice. Presenting ourselves this way will boost our confidence, making our communications clear.
- Clarity – We want to make sure we are communicating with clarity. This means being direct and straightforward. We need to avoid using analogies or stories that don’t make sense or don’t relate to our message. For example, we need to be as concise as possible. Stick to the essential points. Avoid using filler words or anything distracting. When our message is clear, it will be received as we intended.
Being mindful of our communications and how our message can impact our team will boost our confidence as a leader.
Fear isn’t bad, but we can’t let fear prevent us from becoming great leaders. Labeling negative chatter and boosting our confidence will help us overcome our fears.
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