Fearful Leaders are Followers

Image source

Every morning I put my fingers on the keyboard not knowing what will come out. An hour or two later, I post 300 word or less on this blog. (Technically its fewer not less.)

Writing is thinking and often I think differently when the hour’s over. Yesterday it happened again when I typed, “Fearful leaders are followers.” I hadn’t planned it. But, there it was in all its discomfort. It’s been on my mind since.

Fearful leaders follow because they:

  1. Focus on protecting positions.
  2. Let others take risks so they aren’t held responsible.
  3. Love the security of the status quo. What is satisfies. What could be isn’t worth it.


Fearful leaders need too much certainty.

Josh Linkner, in “Disciplined Dreaming,” suggests entrepreneurial leaders pull the trigger with 70% certainty. Anything higher isn’t entrepreneurial.

Traditional leaders pull the trigger at 80% certainty. Anything higher is stagnation.

The uncomfortable 20%

What about the 20% uncertainty factor? Answer fear with trust. Believe in people. Let them rise to the challenge.

Once decisions are made, focus on supporting people, forget the decisions.

Fear and love:

Fear works for the short-term but exhausts in the end. Love works for the long-term. Love your organization, its mission, and its people. Build them up. Trust them. Love energizes.

Winners risk failure. Losers can’t fail. Furthermore, willingness to fail, frees. Protection mode hobbles you and those around you.

Leaders controlled by fear may have positions but they aren’t leading.

Yesterday’s post: “Igniting Change from the Middle.”

For the passionate middle: “Lead your Boss,” by John Baldoni.

Fill in the blank, “Fearful leaders _______.”

How can leaders overcome fear?