Are You Allowing Fear to Control Your Decisions as a Leader?


Every individual and leader deals with fear. It’s not just you; we all have them. But the question is, are you allowing your fears to dictate your actions while constantly being unhappy with the results?

Living in and making decisions in fear will keep you stuck. Growth and development await you when you step outside your comfort zone. But you’ll never be able to experience them if you allow fear to keep you stuck.

Signs that you are operating in fear

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re not allowing fear to control us and our decisions. And it’s easy to think we’re taking the steps we need to take to grow because we are constantly busy, but being busy doesn’t translate to growth. The truth is many leaders and business owners stay “busy” with tasks that don’t matter because fear keeps them from working on the real tasks that will bring positive change.

Do you see yourself in any of these statements?

  • You never take risks.
  • You’re able to successfully accomplish everything you do.
  • You feel busy each day but aren’t seeing real growth.
  • You haven’t ever changed the way that you operate.
  • The goals you’re planning for 2023 are the same as yours for 2022, 2021, and 2020…
  • Procrastination is the name of your game.
  • You don’t delegate or struggle to delegate tasks.
  • You’re always in the “learning” phase but don’t implement the new information.
  • You operate on what you know instead of seeking people who can help you learn more.

These are signs that fear is running you and your business. But, have no “fear” (insert eye roll at corny joke!); you don’t have to stay stuck. Below are tips to overcome fear as you move forward into 2023 and beyond.

Understand what is driving your fears

It’s always wise to get to the root of a problem if we want to experience lasting change in the future. Some common factors that drive our fears in business and life include:

  • Not wanting to fail (personally, professionally, financially, socially, etc.)
  • Worrying about what others think
  • Lack of knowledge and experience
  • Uncertainty about possible outcomes
  • Not wanting to be uncomfortable

Spend some time reflecting on what you’re afraid of and what fears are holding you back in business. For example, are you afraid to look at reports and your numbers because you don’t know what they mean? Are you afraid to try stepping out in that new direction because it might not work? Or, are you afraid to delegate that task to a new employee because they might screw it up, and you’ll look bad?

Take time to think about the fears you’re up against at work and then think about the underlying fear or concern. Once you know this, you’ll be able to work on fighting the real problem instead of the part that’s easier to see.

Tips to overcome your fears

Once you realize fear has been keeping you stuck, taking action is essential to overcome it. Only then will you be able to operate out of what you’re trying to achieve instead of your emotion and fears.

Change how you think about fear

Fear is a basic human emotion. It’s something we all feel. But it’s crucial to realize that we can’t always trust our “feelings.” Our minds and bodies are designed to react a certain way when fear kicks in to help keep us alive. When our fear response kicks in, we begin thinking with our amygdala and hypothalamus (two parts of the brain) which are important for survival mode. This allows us to make the immediate decisions we need to so we can stay alive.

But that’s not what we need when operating in business. We aren’t fighting for our lives (although it might sometimes feel like it.) Instead, we’re experiencing fear over things that cannot harm us. So, when making decisions for business, we want our prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that helps with creativity and reasoning) to lead the way. That means we need to learn to take control back from our fearful thinking.

One way to do this is to learn how to slow your body’s physical response to fear. One example is breathing techniques to slow your physical reaction to fear and anxiety. This can help slow your heart rate, which can help calm your body and allow you to think more clearly.

Expand your knowledge base

If some of your fears stem from having a lack of knowledge, join a class, register for coaching, or read a book to learn more. There are many ways you can grow your understanding of the different areas of business. Sometimes, knowledge is all it takes to overcome fear.

Build your confidence

Confidence plays an important role in growth. If you struggle with confidence, there are a few things you can do to work on building it. First, you can track at least three successes that you have every day. This might be difficult initially, but the longer you do it, the easier it will become.

Secondly, focus on implementing systems and processes that work. When you do this, your business growth no longer relies on your self-confidence; it depends on your confidence in how the business runs. One of the best things about this is it removes human emotion from the mix. Of course, you may need to adjust your processes and systems from time to time, but you can feel confident in your business regardless of your emotions.

To learn more about “process confidence”, check out our past blog post: A Lesson in Confidence & Leadership from a Pot of Chili.

Play out the worst-case scenario

Fear has a way of running wild in our brains when left unchecked. So if you’re struggling with fear over a situation, walk through the worst-case scenario. You’ll often find that the results, even if the situation flops, are not as dire as your fear led you to believe.

Find your motivation

Sometimes all we need to push past fear is to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. For example, did you start your business so you could provide better for your family? Are you working in a company that positively impacts the community? What is the real reason why you’re doing what you’re doing?

Getting in touch with your ‘why’ can help motivate you to take that next “scary” step to continue growing.

Find a support system

It’s harder to deal with fear when we feel alone. This is one of the reasons why it’s wise for business owners to have mentors, coaches, or accountability groups they connect with regularly to help keep them moving forward. It’s comforting to know others are experiencing what you are and working to push through their fears. It’s also encouraging to hear when others overcome similar fears and succeed.

If you aren’t connected with a strong support system right now, we invite you to explore group coaching or one-one-coaching with SPEARity. Our coaches are experienced in helping business owners push past fear and foster a growth mindset as they transform their companies into scalable enterprises. Explore your options today.

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