#LeadershipChat on Twitter tonight will be a very good one. What is #LeadershipChat? Check it out! Well, the topic tonight is fears as leaders. Since I will be unable to attend the session tonight, I thought I would write it on my blog instead. Too bad, I have a first meeting to attend on a volunteer position that I am interested in at the same time.

To set the context, Lisa Petrilli’s blog post, Three Personal Fears to Conquer for Leadership Success, has a much deeper look. Check it out, it is a very good post. I want to tackle what I believe was my fear of leadership success. My was always hanging around my fear of lack. Lisa’s post pointed out:

Fear of Lack down deep in a leader may say…

  • If I make the wrong decision I might lose my job and not be able to care for my family
  • I can’t give up this position that doesn’t fulfill me, working for this unethical/inept Board, because I won’t be able to find a comparable opportunity and my standard of living will suffer
  • I can’t follow my passion because it won’t provide a title that is acceptable in my community/circle of friends – or even to my family…
  • If I lose my job all those people who admired and followed me will think less of me
  • I must demand respect because I can’t bear for my peers to see me without it

* An interesting note about lack: when you find yourself saying you “need” something, it generally points you toward where your fear of lack lies…and then you have to peel back a few layers to figure out where that need and fear of lack is coming from…

Well, that was definitely me in a nutshell. I had spent most of my career not afraid of success or failure but of lack. The point that drove it home for me was “I can’t give up this position that doesn’t fulfill me.” I spent the past couple of years of my corporate America career having this playing in my head… Boy, did it suck. I know it had some definitely impact on my overall performance. Once I may the decision and announced my retirement (4 months from the actually end date), I felt a huge burden lifted from me. I was able to really feel better about myself and what I was working on. The successes that I achieved my last 4 months, were stronger than the ones I had achieved from a year or so before.

I knew I was unhappy with my position and who/what I was working for/on… I knew that my fear of lack, kept me just doing what I had always done… I completely knew I had to get over my fear and did. I just decided that I needed a total change to make it happen. Fear is a powerful. It can make you successful and also drag you down. Challenge yourself to hit your fears head on. Acknowledge them and insure that you are address them when you are doing your best leadership work. Your success depends on doing just that.

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  • Glad you wrote this up, Steve, and kudos for having the courage to step out. Taking a risk to pursue better is one huge way to overcome fear of lack.

  • Thanks Steve! It was definitely something I had to do. If you want to really lead, you have to attack you fears head on. There was no way, I was going to be as effective as I could be.

  • Steve,

    I had a feeling others would be able to relate to the “fear of lack” in a deep-rooted way. I’m thrilled that you shared your story – it’s a true inspiration to others who are knee-deep in lack and not only need to understand how it’s holding them back, but need the encouragement from others who have pulled themselves out of it!

    Wish you could join us tonight at #LeadershipChat – you will be missed. Good luck with the volunteer initiative!

    Lisa Petrilli

  • Nice post Steve! I think you have identified probably one of the biggest fears that is across the workforce, not just leaders. How many people are in jobs that match your description. It takes more strength and courage to face yourself & the fear of lack, than it likely does others. You are probably the only one is views anything is lacking. I can tell you that I personally saw the “gain” in you once you made the retirement decision.

  • It’s so hard to see where those feelings are coming from and why. I felt some of the same things you mentioned above in previous jobs. Especially the “I can’t give up this position that doesn’t fulfill me.” I, too, knew I was unhappy with whom I was working for. However, fear kept me in that position a much longer time than it should have. I ended up leaving that job, but never realizing that it was that fear that kept me in that job I thoroughly hated for so long. You’ve given me something to think about in the future. Thanks!

  • Thanks Lisa! You definitely hit a spark with me within your post.

  • Laurie – thanks for noticing! It was definitely something that I needed to attack (both personally and professionally).