A reporter asked me to comment about how leaders can quell their fears so they can take risk. My answer? Don’t.
Fear is a natural response to unexpected events whether they have already happened or are only possible. Courageous leaders aren’t without fear, they may feel it but they don’t allow it to paralyze them.
What do courageous leaders do about risk? They move toward it to better understand, to “feel the heat” and test their judgment. They do not stick their heads in the sand nor do they accept a pile of analytics as a sufficient basis for a decision.
The reporter asked for “tips” about how to quiet fear. Here’s what I said:
Don’t quiet fear-use it as fuel.
Ask yourself and your colleagues what will happen if you stay in the safe zone.
Use action to inspire others so they come out of the bunker.
Believe what you see, not just what the spreadsheets tell you.
Get rid of people who only tell you why you can’t or shouldn’t do something.
Don’t make decisions to avoid low-probability and/or low-cost risk.
Play out the scenarios. Conversation about what might happen is a form of rehearsal, it prepares you and builds confidence.
Prepare for success. Too much planning is focused on failure.
Do not surround yourself with risk-averse people.