Five Ways to Fight the FUD Factor (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt)
NEW BOOK GIVEAWAY!!
20 copies available!!
Leave a comment on this guest post by Sabrina Horn to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of her new book, Make It, Don’t Fake It: Leading with Authenticity for Real Business Success.
(Deadline for eligibility is 06/27/2021. International winners will receive electronic versions.)
As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Here are five basic actions every leader can take to run their businesses through the fear, uncertainty, and doubt of challenging times.
1. Values – In times of crisis, reaffirm your company’s core values, as well as your value proposition. It is both grounding and inspiring for employees and customers to be reminded of what you stand for and how you remain steadfast in your mission.
2. Planning on Steroids– In turbulent times, reality may be changing every week, day, and hour.
Now is the time to flex those short-term planning muscles. Develop multiple contingencies you can use in any number of scenarios. They may be very tactical in nature, but each one is actually a strategic move to finding your way to the clear.
3. Overcommunicate – In times of uncertainty, plan to reach stakeholders more frequently than you otherwise might. When doing so, communicate with certainty and candor. It’s ok to be repetitive and reconfirm the situation. Doing so eases anxiety and provides comfort. Never say anything you do not absolutely, positively know to be true.
Bad information, like squeezed toothpaste, is impossible to put back into the tube.
4. Humility – The best leaders are secure in knowing that they don’t know everything, and they have no problem asking for help, learning from others, listening to complaints, even apologizing for their mistakes. That level of confidence and open-mindedness draws people in, demonstrates strength, and builds trust.
5. Self-Care – It can be very lonely at the top, especially during times of uncertainty.
It’s important to have people you trust to talk with. Cultivate a small personal network of mentors – the handful of people you can talk to about anything.
How might leaders fight fear, uncertainty, and doubt? FUD
Sabrina Horn is an award-winning CEO, C-suite advisor, communications expert, and author. She founded Horn Group (acquired by Finn Partners), a national public relations firm that for a quarter century, advised thousands of tech executives and their companies. Her new book, Make It, Don’t Fake It: Leading with Authenticity for Real Business Success (foreword by Geoffrey Moore), launches June 2021.
Sabrina talks about how to win customers when you’re company is looking for it’s first customer.
You are spot on! I have found that overcommunicating is what we need to do 150% of the time when driving change. It goes a long way to minimizing the business of employees “making stuff up”.
I loved the word authentic in the title of your book–this is who I always try to be. Your suggestions affirmed a lot of the things I try to do as a leader. Thank you
The overriding virtue required to drive the 5 actions shared here is courage. I define courage as “Doing what needs to be done in the presence of fear” In.our case, courage is doing those 5 actions with enough conviction and commitment that FUD becomes a peripheral and insignificant thing. Real wisdom. Thanks.
Overcommunicate, humility and self care those stand out for me. Unfortunately I see more that under communicate as the going gets tougher as they get caught up in the being busy. Being humble, it just seems you are born to be that way or not. Self care, sometimes it takes years of ignoring this life aspect before one comes to handling it correctly.
Thank you for this post! We are going thru an acquisition and this will help the team focus. The next 6 months will be difficult so ideas like this are extremely helpful.
Thank you. It is true we must never lose sight of the importance of building and sustaining relationships. If we think about complaints as the exchange of information, we can better collaborate for the best results. We have to be reminded of the mission and be trusted to listen to varying points of view. Ms. Horn keeps it simple serious. We cannot show confidence always. It builds trust.
Thanks, the message of communicating is vital, keep the team informed and in tune with change, the three step approach, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you have said.
But so critical we keep ourselves tuned, in the words of the great, Franklyn Covey, take time to sharpen the saw.
Would like a copy
Love the metaphor of squeezing out toothpaste compared to the sharing of bad information. Retractions rarely work; once it’s out there, it’s out there. So important to get it right.
Love self care part
Thank you for this wonderful post, Sabrina. As a former leader, I find your reference to Self Care and the mentor network very helpful. Thank you so much for this.
I wake up at 2 am every morning concerned about the changes the pandemic has wrought. We stayed true to our CORE VALUES and company WHY. All your comments are exactly how we run our company and how we will continue to grow.
Self care seems to be what many leaders seem to be the worst at, especially in the nonprofit world. I don’t know about any of you, but this last year I made more plans and multiple contingency plans than I ever thought possible. Communication is always a tricky one because each of your staff seem to need to hear/see information in different ways so getting that right can be an uphill battle, too.
Thank you Sabrina. Excellent pointers and would be useful coaching material for my team. A lot of energy is used in filtering information and opinion to get to the facts – toothpaste analogy is accurate.
You couldn’t be more right about it being lonely “at the top.” It feels even lonelier in the middle when those at the “top” aren’t accessible or approachable. It’s important to have someone to lean on in your circle. Build your network so you have those people!
Total fun fact: Leonard Marrafino, one of the inventors of stripes in toothpaste, is from my hometown. Seeing that photo made me smile with hometown pride… and made me reflect on the value of self-care during challenges. So many times we burn ourselves out, leaving us unable to lead. Remember to take a moment for a deep breath or a time out!
You are so right about it being lonely at the top. It sometimes feels even lonelier “at the middle” when those at the top are unapproachable or not accessible. You need to have someone to lean on which is why it’s so important to build your network! Find those people you can lean on and turn to during turbulent times.
I agree about the need to overcommunicate, and I am intentional about that on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s still not good enough, so it remains a continuous goal. I also strive to be a Servant Leader, and I appreciate the posts on Leadership Freak to remind me to focus on those important traits.
We live in a world where many rush to and lean on self care, and, while that is a real need, I am afraid that it too often overlooks humility as the key ingredient. As an international facilitator of Love and Logic, I find it easy to profess and yet nearly impossible for most leaders to achieve the level of humility where it is possible to learn from others, listen to complaints and actively seek help. The best leaders who have found humility seem to have a better handle on self care realities too. Thank you!
Don’t complicate, be simple and concise! Don’t blow your Horn or beat your Drum, Teach others how to march to the beat.
Great synopsis of key elements to keep out in front of you always, but especially in crisis.
Great post. It seems like something is missing in the Self Care part. To me, at least, it’s also internal, beyond the small sounding board group.
Values and planning are two of the most important tools in my managerial belt. Values give me the foundation and planning helps me execute daily.
Thank you for your post. It is a great reminder that keeping people informed helps to build confidence and bring the team together.
Great content, as always! Thank you for passing along excellent information each day!!
So, to be completely clear Dan, you are saying that the the usual approach of trumpeting “values” you have never mentioned before and placing a total embargo on any and all information or discussion is NOT best practice? Some learning here for some people, I think!
Thank you for the posting, and especially the video clip. It was nice to “meet” you, Sabrina. I’m a huge advocate of the overcommunication step. When introducing something new, you can never communicate enough, you have to use your creativity to package the information in different ways in order to catch the attention of all.
Great as always! I love the fact that Sabrina talks about her honesty of being transparent with “you are my first big client,” but she also let’s us all know that she did her homework. Hard work, honesty, and humility are always a great combination!
Thank you Sabrina for the inspiration to be authentic and learn and further develop my career. Very insightful and useful informaiton
Spot on. Just when we think we have messaged enough, we need to message a little more. In the absence of facts, people will make up their own.
Recently we’ve been making some pivots in how we function and yes communication although it is happening is not happening enough to overxome the insecuritiea and anxieties in some of newer leaders and their teams. Overcommunication is needed!
We often hear of FUD sales tactics but rarely when dealing with management issues. Intriguing book idea and would love a copy!
This is so helpful and thought-provoking! Thank you for sharing!
This is exactly the steps I took during my initial 4 months in my new leadership position. Embracing and communicating our agencies core values and reinforcing my teams skills and talents to accomplish the mission. I was not afraid to ask for help and it was very humbling to know that my peers were there to assist. It helped me build stronger relationships with them and become a more cohesive leadership unit. I am in the midst of hiring personnel so I also communicated that succession training was necessary and applying those skills the team was empowered to represent our organization based on their experience and my trust in them. Lastly, during the COVID-19 pandemic my wife set up a small gym in our garage to workout in. That was the open door I needed for self-care. Getting up and working out in the morning has been the kick start I needed to begin my day and reenergize myself. Thanks for your insights in this session. They are extremely spot on and useful.
There is a fine line between over-communicating and information overload-where team members start drowning out and ignoring messaging. The key is to estimate where that line might be, cross it often, but not overly so. The more information the better which will help with gossip, rumors, and value communication. Great thoughts for the day. Thank you!
It starts with values, when personal values align with your company’s core values, leaders know where they stand, are happier and more inspired to do their job. There is an inner motivator that fuels their drive to achieve the mission because they know that their contribution has a positive impact on the overall success of the company.
I’ve seen all kinds of leadership styles over the years and without a doubt the ones I respect and admire most have been honest with themselves and others. Showing vulnerability humanizes, and creates empathy. When you connect at that level it’s a much more concrete relationship.
so helpful, would love a copy of this book to dive in more
I would love a copy of this book.
I work at Blackburn College, a small private college and the only student managed work college
in the nation. If the students live on campus they work on campus for tuition. We have student managers involved in every department on campus and are involved in every committee. I would love to have a copy of this book to share with my workers!. Your blog has become a wonderful tool for me to use to train these young leaders, thanks for all you do!
Super! Values first, overcommunicate and humility. Everyone talks about avoiding Planning on Steroids, but we always end up there so do it well! Would love a copy of this book.
That last comment…
“It’s where you have to make that transition from a founder to a Chief Executive Officer, a leader”…
So many good companies make that leap to great company because leaders understand the power of transition… Great interview Dan, thank you!
I’m in education as an educational leader (principal). Your words ring true in the education field as well as in the business world. Parents, especially during the pandemic, need communication to keep them confident in the safety of the school. I have also discovered that humility is incredibly important but that humility must be paired with an inner confidence that comes from knowledge and belief in your values and goals. It’s a fine balance.
Such good advice which I think many leaders learned – both the easy and hard way during the pandemic. We all were through so much and those who rose up from the chaos were those that embraced all of the key points you mentioned. Authentic leaders are successful and people want to work for and with them. Sabrina definitely nailed it.
Very pertinent and relative. I feel like I have 3 out of 5 down but Self-Care and Planning on Steroids (mainly the tip to develop multiple contingencies) are lacking. There is so much gray area now, flexibility in planning is an absolute necessity. Having a plan for a different strategy may be challenging but I would love the ability to implement a new plan without going back to the table.
Tremendous words and counsel, Sabrina. Thank you for this gift. When facing uncertain times, leaders LEAN IN. Your post reminds me of how Tom Peters boils down his 43 years in business to these 6 words, “Hard is soft. Soft is hard.” Our ‘hard’ plans of spreadsheets and processes have to be ‘soft’ when uncertainty/challenges come and we need to pivot and adapt and ‘flex those short-term planning muscles,’ as you say. The so-called ‘soft’ (culture, relationships, teamwork, individual growth, self-care, etc.) is the true ‘hard’ and durable bedrock of execution and excellence. When times get tough, those who we lead and serve are looking for us to be real people, to show our humanity and to lead out of our humility.
This is spot on – all five areas picked with great wisdom and thoughtfulness. I especially appreciated that she started with “values”. SUCH an important message to remain firm in our values. In the words from Hamilton the musical (which is a rephrase of an actual Alexander Hamilton quote), “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?”
Well stated and defined…… self-care seems to be the most important after this year for leaders. They deny themselves ordinary self-care because they are so consumed with service to others. It can make them better leaders and they deserve to have happiness and joy. Often when this is ignored it leads to health problems and resentment from family members.
Thank you! I work in education and it has definitely been challenging this year. This is a great reminder and perfecting timing as I prepare for the next school year, knowing there are more challenges ahead.
Yes!! Communication is key to fear and misinformation. I have found that in times of change or great stress, keeping all colleagues involved in the process supports our values, trust, and having information needed to feel less fearful!
Humility and overcommunication are at the forefront for me as a leader with self-care coming in next. Overall, great advice! Thank you!
Thank you for this! This is timely for me as my team/org is going through some short-term churn. The communication – even when repetitive – helps serve as a North Star of sorts. Keeping the constant flow of communication open and transparent has been critical for the team to function.
This website has been like a bible reading to me. I have enjoyed it and look forward to it daily. I find much of the information shared either reaffirming or filled with a conviction for my shortcomings. Much like today I feel comfortable in 1 and 4 and need to improve in all the other areas!!
I love the “values”, and”overcommunicate” prompts. Companies that shift away from their mission during times of stress quickly get blown about by the wind. And it becomes easy to hide away from stakeholders, when keeping the dialogue open can often cultivate new solutions!
Practical and meaningful strategies. This looks great.
Love the “value” and “overcommunicate” advices. I feel that “value” instill confidence, which remove fear. It is always good to remember who we are and why we are here. The 2nd point, communication is always important, but when things are rough and ambiguous, we need to overcommunicate to make sure that everyone is aligned and provide more opportunities for others to correct our assumptions. I believe assumptions are dangerous, but in many situations, we cannot avoid them. Then it is important that we overcommunicate to ensure alignment. Thanks.
I really appreciate #5. Far to often leadership is about taking care of everyone else at the expense of yourself. It is still a personal area of growth. Great list. Thank you.
The comparison of bad information and toothpaste was a classic. Great quote. Thank you.
Yes, my small circle of trusted advisors is invaluable! Great post, thank you!
As an educational leader we have relied on all of these strategies this year for sure. Sadly we have not done a great job with self-care.
Love these strategies, and perfect timing as I am joining a new company and will be leading a team of 9. My first steps when joining a new team as a leader is to really establish a foundation of trust and authenticity, listening more than speaking, and finding those small early wins that will help establish credibility in my leadership.
FUD has been the name of the game since March 2020, and these five tactics are really great reminders to breathe deep and get back to basics. Thank you – can’t wait to read the book!
Self care! Seems to be the forgotten piece most of the time. Looks different for everyone, can change from day to day depending on the needs, but oh so important!!
Well stated. All 5 points are very important to remember
This sounds like a “Must-Read” with authentic categories instead of usual management speak fluff.
Thank you, Sabrina. The 5 basic points reveal how we should respond to challenges. The idea of faking it, till you make it, is not the way of now,
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I had not seen the FUD acronym before. Handy to know and easy to remember. FUD can grow too easily. These five actions are a great counterbalance. My company invested in “overcommunicate” and “values” this year and it paid tremendous dividends in how we continue to navigate the pandemic.
Great reminders and tips for Leaders that I needed today. We must remember to find ways to fill our cup or we wont have anything to pour into the lives of others.
I love that you started the list with values. I believe in leading with your values and sharing them through stories.
Humility is such a powerful action. And this was a great reminder of its importance. I work with new directors who sometimes demonstrate imposter syndrome and feel like they should have all the answers. I would love to read your book for more insights!
Values is a critical component indeed in combating FUD. Too often distracted by immediate threats that we neglect what is important ‘must do’ for the long haul. Appreciate the 5 ways to fight fud. Thank you.
Hey Dan and Sabrina,
I would be so grateful to win a copy of the awesome book. It’s just what I need as I’m starting out my own business. Previously only co-owner with my partner.
I’m fighting with the fear, & anxiety. Will I fail, will anyone be willing to pay me. Feeling like an imposter and if I’m good enough.
I do want to make it and not fake it. I want to be authentically me (which sometimes isn’t always perfect 😆).
And Dan, I’ve been following your leadership tips for awhile now (on Twitter). Love them, thank you 🙏
Great principles to lead by.
Good morning, Dan…. my team has been swimming in FUD this past year with so many changes – pandemic, new leadership, organizational changes, and an increased workload. At this time, we are barely hanging on to our sanity! I share your leadership articles with the team frequently as ways to learn how to cope and grow and understand others. Thank you.
This was great and especially fitting as we continue to work during the Pandemic. I have found that even when I feel like our leadership team in over communicating, the front line team often doesn’t agree! Humility also goes a long way with people, asking for help doesn’t make me look like a fool, but shows the trust I have in my team and makes them feel like they are contributing!
I also agree with the self care aspect that is so often swept under the rug. I am learning to balance being a new mom, a wife and a manager. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way how important the self care is for me as an employee as well as for my family. The network of others in my similar situation is a lifeboat during the challenging days!
In the new normal of today, the 5 core points are very much needed. With the many changes that have come about in the past 15 or 16 months we need the over communicating, reminding our staff of the companies core values. I look forward to future points, sometimes reminders are key to our success.
Thanks for simplifying what can seem like and feel like a huge dilemma! What I see as the underlying ingredient to each of these steps is exerting the effort to be consistent in each one.
Overcommunicating speaks to me. We struggle with a lack of communication in my area. And “Amen” to the bad communication part. I like the visual!
Thank you Sabrina for your insight especially during the challenging times we are facing. Humility is a basic action I live by not only in management but in life as well. During this Public Health Emergency we have been faced with so many challenges and need for immediate change. We all must realize that this is new to all of us and not one person has the exact answers. We must be willing to work and learn together. Thanks again for the basic actions needed.
This blog was filled with so much content, it was a FULL COURSE MEAL!! I especially loved the bullet point related to humility. There is security and confidence in your awareness of your insecurities and not-knowing. Self-awareness is key! I was taught for a long time “fake it until you make it”, then I learned “there is no future in faking it”. I look forward to reading and walking out, “Make it, don’t fake it”
I have found that during times like now, we need each other to hear our frustrations at times. To listen to someone and be able to help them see the solution they already know is a critical gift. Once the idea is identified, as a group overcommunicate the plan, adjust as needed, and celebrate success.
I would love a copy!
Two days before the COVID shutdown March 2020 in Georgia, I was voted in as PTSA president for my son’s school for the year — what a blessing in disguise. Planning on steroids, overcommunicating and humility were the only things that kept our group cohesive and successful. Most people naturally “shut down” when things are uncertain and only lots of repeating, KISS planning and abundant praise kept our volunteers engaged and happy to help though an ever-changing obstacle course.
Thank you for this wonderful post, Sabrina. As an aspiring leader, I find your reference to Self Care and the mentor network very helpful. Thank you so much for this.
Great guest post!! LOVE the analogy regarding bad info and toothpaste.
Love the toothpaste analogy!
A visionary leader usually take care of 5 key things as listed without fail. Additionally, he shall keep full trust on his key team for deliverables. He shall be keen to learn on the reality situation with facts & figures and listen to the newer ideas to overcome the difficulties in the path of predetermined success. He encourages the team and allows good freedom to execute quick actions for seeking solutions.
He calls for frequent meetings to review the impact of new actions taken. He revises the
plans and set new targets to taste the success in a new changing environment.
Thanks for sharing
Thank you for the wonderful post Sabrina. This was excellent information on how important these five points are.
Amazing insight I would love to learn more
Probably my biggest struggle as a leader.
Sounds like I need help in this field.
Loved this read! Overcommunication – I agree with overcommunicating, especially in these current times of high turnover within organizations, I oftentimes see leaders do not communicate enough (items they are able to share) with their teams. Values – Recently my own organization requested we nominate others for leadership principles/values the organization holds true and I can honestly say the impact surrounding such a small gesture and action of employees brought individuals back to the why they do what they do. Self-care is also something I unfortunately do not hold as a top priority and need to do more of as a leader experiencing high levels of stress and workload.
Wow, what a concise treatment of dealing with tough times both in the office and in our personal lives! One big point that is often overlooked by leaders (including myself) is self-care. Being too busy with other stuff and not taking care of yourself is a clear road to ruin. Thanks for such a wealth of information in a small package.
Quoting: “ In turbulent times, reality may be changing every week, day, and hour. Now is the time to flex those short-term planning muscles.” Emphasis on ‘short-term’… But, rather than multiple contingencies, what about this: With the goal / objective firmly in mind, choose the direction and first move or two. Then, assessing and reflecting as we go forward, adapt our efforts to address those unpredictable, unforeseen things that will always crop up.
Absolutely bang on!
I love the toothpaste analogy. Great content dealing with real pain in leadership. I would love to read more of this.