Is Fear Hindering Your Leadership Success?

Leaders and individuals in general, must face and overcome their fears to be successful.

While some leaders may seem like they are always “on”, confident, calm, and collected, their outward appearances may not always align with their inner voice that sometimes screams emotions of fear and self-doubt.

Do not get me wrong. I’m not saying that you can’t be successful because you experience emotions of fear, self-doubt or any other limiting emotions which are normal human reactions sometimes. The point is, learning to handle fear and discomfort by leaning into it is where growth happens. Breakthroughs occur, knowledge increases, confidence rises, and it creates these “ah ha” moments in life.

Great leaders hone the ability to confront their fears head-on and deal with them appropriately to move past them. While some leaders may choose to ignore their fears, successful and inspiring leaders understand that the fears they face can be a catalyst for change and success.

There is commonality as it relates to fears. Some may come from external circumstances, situations, and scenarios. But it’s typically inner fears, that negative self-talk or limiting beliefs that can sap a leader’s energy and ability to perform to the best of their ability.

Let’s explore some common fears that can challenge leaders and limit their potential.

Fearing Failure

This goes without saying. It’s hard for anyone to feel 100% positive about what they are trying to accomplish and achieve consistently as we all have moments of doubt. But for those who carry a worrisome streak in their nature, it can wreak havoc on a leader emotionally and performance-wise, which may have a domino effect across their team and organization.

Here’s the thing: you will experience failure and setbacks as a leader, which is to be expected as there is no such thing as perfection in business and in life. Failure does not mean the end of your leadership career, in fact fear and setbacks can support you in learning more about yourself and others.

In the end, it’s all about being willing to shift your mindset to welcome failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Handling Criticism

Leaders are sometimes subject to more criticism within an organization because of their level of visibility and responsibility within the company. Criticism is part and parcel of your job, and as with any aspect of leadership, the way you handle it will either make or break your career. 

Strangely enough, the absence of criticism is a bigger warning sign than the presence of criticism. In other words, if you find yourself never experiencing criticism, it probably means you are playing it safe and not being bold enough with your own authentic leadership style.  

Challenging Imposter Syndrome

Some leaders second-guess themselves at times which part of our human nature. But when you constantly live with a mindset of thinking you’re somehow inadequate and not up living up to the task at hand, that is an unhealthy mindset.  

People who experience “imposter syndrome” often think that they’ll be “found out” or exposed, however, this is just your negative mind’s way of trying to hold you back and keep you safe. 

Shift your mindset, focus, and think about the skills and competencies that you have that will assist you in overcoming the situation? What are my strengths? How do I contribute to the team’s success?

Making Good Decisions Quickly

Decisiveness and leadership go together, and the pressure to make sound decisions quickly can be extremely challenging at times.  

In reality, you know what to do, but at times we are second-guessing ourselves, which causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. Instead, learn to trust your gut instincts and balance it with the available data and facts to guide your decisions. Use past experiences to your advantage and gather insights from people you trust. Yes, being decisive can be scary, but being indecisive is a much bigger threat to your leadership career.

Not Achieving the Desired Results

For some, the thought of being judged by the results you achieve can be very challenging. Sometimes, leaders can inadvertently put the proverbial cart before the horse. They focus on the results instead of zeroing in on what they can do right now in the moment to achieve those results. If you are following the thread of worry and fear, you will forecast what could go wrong, rather than focus on what you can control and deliver on today.

Having Difficult Conversations

Referring to our previous blog on this topic, it can be challenging to have difficult conversations with team members or to share constructive feedback with individuals.  

How can you overcome this challenge? Adapting a positive mindset can help. Ease your fears by visualizing conversations before the fact. Imagine them going well. Write down what you intend to say, which can help you feel more confident when the time comes to engage in that feared discussion.

What Leadership Fears Do You Have?

What fears do you face in your leadership role? How have they prevented you delivering your best performance? Do you feel ashamed that you find yourself operating from fear when you want to do exactly the opposite?

Changing your fear mindset takes time. It also needs a lot of positive encouragement and I’m happy to help you navigate the path to becoming a more confident and effective leader. I encourage you to give me a call at 1.855.871.3374 or email me at

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