I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm about to discuss the fictional cartoon character, Fearless Leader, from Rocky and Bullwinkle show. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, this piece is about helping you to understand that a certain amount of fearlessness is needed to be an effective and admired leader--one that people will want to follow.
Indeed, there's been much written about the art of leadership. In fact, I've offered many thoughts on the subject in various articles published in this column over the past couple of years. That said, I've yet to tackle the connection of fearlessness and leadership until now.
Here are 5 reasons which suggest fearlessness in leadership is a critical trait to develop:
1. Analysis paralysis kills breakthrough thinking--If you have a tendency not to make a move until you have exhaustively examined every nuance and possible scenario (despite how remote that scenario may be), before you take action, you are probably stifling the breakthrough thinking capabilities of everyone within your span of control.
It's better for you, and your business, to begin to adopt a different approach to decision-making--one that is characterized as gathering available information, making a decision and moving forward. Spending time evaluating every unlikely scenario wastes time and fatigues the organization.
2. A lack of decisiveness creates missed opportunities--If you're one to pause indefinitely when confronted with the need to make a time limited decision, it's highly likely that you are missing many opportunities to grow and mature your business.
Instead, it may be time to embrace a new way to make decisions more readily. Consider using "huddles." This device enables you to assemble colleagues for a short meeting to brainstorm options that can help you arrive at the "right" decision. Implementing guidelines like time-limiting the duration and requiring participants to stand during the huddle can serve to keep these meetings brief and on-point.
3. Fear of failure slows reaction time--Your firm's responsiveness to its marketplace will suffer if you have a fear of failure. Develop a reputation for being slow to react and your brand will come to be known for its sluggishness.
It's healthier to work to establish a "learning" culture within your business--one that enables you and your business to learn from its mistakes and promotes well informed risk-taking. This will improve your reaction time and improve morale among your staff, who will gain confidence as you encourage their independence.
4. Fear of the unknown smothers innovation--By definition, innovation is creating something that wasn't there before. If a fear of the unknown impacts your decision-making, your outlook is likely squashing all innovative thinking within your business.
It's time to accept life's uncertainty and recognize that the future often brings the unexpected. Strive to make your best decision based on the information available then monitor as you move on.
5. Success is stifled when leaders stall--If decisions aren't made quickly and determinedly your team will find it difficult to proceed in pursuit of your organization's overarching goals. Your lack of conviction will raise insecurities in the staff.
It is often best to trust your gut, make the call and adopt a confident stance once you have reached a decision.
To close, if you're not ordinarily fearless when it comes to decision-making and direction-setting, it may be time to start to work on it. On the other hand, if you are a natural born risk-taker, be sure to temper that tendency by thinking a bit before you act to ensure that you're not about to assume needless risk. Carelessness, for sure, is a not a trait seen in great leaders. But, the best leaders do take calculated risks and are decisive in their pursuit of achieving their vision.
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