The Enemy of Action

by Krishna on December 29, 2006

Why does the deer not step aside when the headlights start rushing towards it? Here is a nice poem about it. I have heard and read many people talking about fear as a motivational factor, but in my opinion, fear is perhaps one of the most paralyzing feelings. It prevents action even when it is in the best interest of the scared person to act. Also, it prevents action that may even be useful to the person or thing that is causing the fear.

  • Fear of unemployment keeps the employees’ mouths shut preventing them from questioning the dubious actions of their managers.
  • Fear of seeming ignorant keeps a team member quiet when he or she should be asking questions to clarify their understanding.
  • Fear of losing face keeps the manager from admitting mistakes even when things are so obviously going down the drain.
  • Fear of market failure and criticism delays releases to the point that competitors gain an opening.
  • Fear of betrayal and litigation prevents close working relationships that would speed communication.

There are many causes for fear. Business leadership within an organization can reduce fear among employees by sincere candor and openness. Communication improves when honest mistakes are forgiven and “stupid” questions are encouraged. Mercenary behavior can be discouraged by placing greater emphasis on ethical values inside and outside the workplace. And when managers and leaders exhibit humility, show eagerness to learn and the courage to be flexible, many demons disappear from the office.

At the same time, there are external factors like a poor economy that can contribute to lack of confidence and resultant paralysis. That is where true leaders show their true worth. They don’t lie about the situation or give false hope. Fully acknowledging the gravity of the situation, they have the wisdom to chart strategies that would take the organization through its troubles. They provide comfort to others through the courage of their convictions. Winston Churchill is one such leader who comes to mind.

What can you do to eliminate fear in your organization and make employees free instead?

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