What do Zappos,  Pandora, Glassdoor, and Menlo Innovations have in common? Based on extensive Wordblu research, they have made freedom central to how they operate.

These companies have cracked the code on removing fear from work, and becoming democratic workplaces where people feel a sense of citizenship, and see themselves as stewards of the culture and the company.

What is your assessment of fear at work?

To qualify your company or department as fear-based, take a few of these straight from Worldblu's white paper for a spin.

In your company...

  • How important is politicking?
  • Who gets ahead, and why?
  • How many departments or divisions are run as fiefdoms?
  • What was the last great idea the company pursued that didn't come from an executive?

If that raised an eyebrow, know that fear does no discriminate. It runs throughout every level, from the staff trenches to the C-suite.

What we all want

Fear is detrimental to achieving a company's full potential. We just can't be engaged or innovative when we are afraid. Some subscribe to the notion that "fear is a motivator," but what fear does is kill trust -- the ultimate demotivator.

Not surprisingly, trustworthy servant leaders who are after their employees best interest have been repeatedly linked to improved employee performance.

Research on psychological safety by Amy Edmondson of Harvard indicates that when encouraging leaders foster a "culture of safety" -- where employees can speak up, experiment, give feedback, or ask for help -- it leads to better learning and performance outcomes.

Killing fear is also good for your bottom line. In the Worldblu study, their certified freedom-centered companies had better returns than the S&P 500 -- even during the last recession -- "an average cumulative revenue growth rate over a three-year period that was 6.7 times greater."

Five questions to kill fear and improve your work and life

Traci Fenton, Founder and CEO of WorldBlu, is a breath of fresh air in a stuffy overcrowded room. In this video, she inspires us to imagine the possibilities of work--and life--without fear. She quotes research that states 80 percent of our thinking is fear-based thinking that limits our full potential.



After watching Fenton, think for a moment what it would be like to lead yourself, team or company without fear holding you back. Really...I'm asking you to imagine the possibilities. Take a moment.

To make this practical, Fenton has given us a very useful self-coaching tool that can shift our thinking from a mindset of fear to a mindset of freedom and possibility. Consider these five questions as you reimagine your work or life:

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. Why am I afraid?
  3. What would I do if I weren't afraid? (this is the "power question")
  4. How would I feel without the fear?
  5. Why is it okay for me to let go of the fear? (In other words, what is the truth you know in your heart or head that sets you free and makes you feel at peace?)

When you have the courage to get introspective and ace these questions, it allows you to get in touch with what it is you truly want, free of fear clouding your dreams and deepest desires.

In our own coaching sessions with clients, that's when the work truly begins. The rest is just like building a house -- one brick at a time.