Let’s face it: leadership is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re the president of the PTA, the planner of your friend group, or running your own business – leaders can have a tough time.
There always seems to be someone who criticizes every decision. Or trying to juggle everyone’s schedules and interests is impossibly challenging. And self-doubt can cripple your efforts to successful entrepreneurship.
A prevalent image of a good leader is a “take no prisoners” person who steamrolls others to get things done. While that may work in some situations (“No, Sharon, you cannot bring a pie to the holiday gathering”), there are several other effective ways to be a better and more fearless leader.
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to work with or for a machine. But what does “being human” actually mean?
A good leader knows that they don’t know everything. They also recognize that any person can make an essential contribution at any time. It could come in the form of an off-handed comment that sparks an idea, or it could be a suggestion that you hadn’t considered.
But it would help if you learned to listen to other people, so you don’t miss those vital moments.
Good leaders don’t take all the credit for themselves. They know who did what and when and acknowledge the contributions that made a difference.
But sharing isn’t always positive. Sometimes it is crucial to share the blame as well.
If you rely on someone to complete a task and they don’t, what is your usual reaction? Your inclination may be to take one for the team (“the buck stops here” and all of that). But that is not real accountability, and it probably adds to your stress level.
Holding people accountable for their responsibilities is a sign that you want things done right and in the allotted time. And this is where the fearless part comes in.
To be a fearless leader, you can’t be afraid of hurting feelings. Now, that doesn’t mean you should yell and scream to motivate people (please don’t do that). But you can be clear about your expectations. And if someone doesn’t like it, that’s on them.
I just mentioned stress. Does it sound weird to say that there are times where embracing stress can be a good thing? It’s true.
Most stress is self-imposed, so if you are stressed about something, chances are you care about it enough to worry about it going well. That’s okay. And it’s okay to acknowledge it, too. You just can’t let it get out of control to the point where you can’t get anything else done. Use it as a motivator.
Have you ever been involved in a project, and the leader doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing? Or there are apparent flaws in a plan, but the leader refuses to change course or adapt to avoid any tangles?
Leadership involves a lot of guesswork because it is impossible to see every potential outcome of every possible path. Fearless leadership is admitting that you don’t have all of the answers while welcoming ideas and observations that can keep the project moving (see “Listen” and “Share” above).
I mentioned earlier that it is vital for an excellent leader to listen to other people. That is learning. But it is also essential to enhance your knowledge through different forms of learning. Fearless leaders are not afraid to admit when they may be using old techniques and then look for newer alternatives.
One way to keep learning is to identify your fears and then adapt them for good. It makes you sound like a superhero, right? Using fear as a motivator can go horribly wrong because people could feel forced into doing something.
But identifying the fear and then using it to learn what not to do (or how to avoid triggering the fear) can be an infinitely helpful tool for effective leadership. “Fearless” doesn’t just mean “no fear.” It can also mean that you don’t let your fears guide your actions and decisions.
Here is another obvious one. In some ways, I think it is the most important. Every person we see as a fearless leader in history has made a choice or chosen a path that may have been unpopular or previously unknown.
But they didn’t let that stop them from trying anyway. To me, that is the true definition of fearless – to forge a path that nobody has gone down before. Of course, I wouldn’t suggest doing so without serious planning and research first! There is a thin line between being fearless and being foolish.
I know this seems like a lot to take in, but really, it boils down to one thing: be a good person.
Know when to listen and share. Be realistic about your knowledge and strive to improve your base. Don’t let fear take over, and don’t be afraid to think out of the box.
These are just a few ways to be a better and more fearless leader. Now, go out there and apply them! If you want to chat with me about how I can help you become the fearless leader I know you are, CLICK HERE!
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