How to Face Fear Like a Leader

You never defeat fear by ignoring it.

You defeat fear by moving toward and through it. When I say, “Defeat,” I don’t mean eliminate.

Fear is an ever present companion of those who have a firm grasp on reality.

How to face fear like a leader:

#1. Defeat fear by acknowledging fear:

Don’t try to bolster courage by pretending you aren’t afraid, instead explain how you’re facing fear. Successful leaders admit their fear and acknowledge the fear of others.

An uncertain path is the context of courage.

A leader who faces their own fear helps others believe they can defeat fear too. Call it the, “Maybe I can too,” approach. “If she can, maybe I can too.”

#2. Defeat fear by connecting with others:

One way to gain courage is by connecting with someone who has defeated fear.

You gain courage by listening to stories of courage. In this sense, courage is social.

You empower others when you acknowledge fear and explain how you rose up.

However, listening to stories is only a beginning.

#3. Defeat fear by taking action:

Playing it safe is easier than risking failure, but action defeats fear.

The deadly goal of fear is inaction.

Bystanders justify inaction and criticize those who are doing something.

You never gain confidence from the sidelines. Step toward your fear.

  • Stand up.
  • Speak up.
  • Deliver what you have.

#4. Defeat fear in order to benefit the team:

Be the example of overcoming fear that fills others with courage.

Find courage by considering your impact on others.

  • Purpose is other-centered, not self-centered.
  • Purpose is seen in how you serve others, not how you serve yourself.

A purpose outside yourself enables you to find courage within yourself.

How might you face fear like a leader?

Bonus material:

This post is inspired by my conversation with Mike Howard. He recently retired as the Chief Security Officer of Microsoft. It was so refreshing to hear Mike talk about feeling intimidated.

  • The best thing that happened to me. (0:46)
  • Don’t believe your own BS. (2:25)
  • I’ll tell you the truth, I was intimidated. (3:15)
  • Now I’m president of this organization. I don’t want to look stupid. (4:00)

Take note that one way Mike faced fear was his motivation to be an example. I call this defeating fear with higher purpose.