What to Do When You Are Afraid of Your Leader

The idea of someone fearing a leader or boss may seem odd. But it happens more often than you might think, at every level and within every type of organization.

Fear of a leader covers a lot of ground, from simply feeling a bit intimidated by someone’s power and authority to fear of abuse or harassment. Whatever the source and degree of your fear, you have to learn to deal with it. Here are some steps you can take:

Recognize your fear. Everything starts with awareness. Think about the fears that are stopping you from being yourself. Just observe them. This process is actually incredibly freeing.

Admit your fear. Many people know what they are afraid of, but won’t admit it, even to themselves. This resistance only gives your fear more power. Denial means you’re running instead of facing.

Decide if you want to change it or not. At some point, you have to decide to face your fear. You can choose to be less afraid. That doesn’t mean your fear is will just go away, but it will move the ball. It will create a shift. Examine what your fear is and make a decision—to stay fearful or to change.

If you decide to stay as you are, you can stop reading here. But if you decide to stop being fearful, here are the next steps:

Define the challenge. Now is the challenge to no longer allow the fear to drive a wedge between you and what you want to accomplish. If you want to stop being afraid of your leader, be specific about how you want to stop being afraid. For example, if your boss is known for having a bad temper, maybe you want to be able to talk to them without being afraid they’ll bite your head off. Once you know your goal, you can start moving toward what you want.

Take a baby step. The most common reaction in a fearful situation is “I can’t!” This is the fear of failure and loss that stops us from taking action.  Instead of giving in to that anxiety, learn to move in the direction you want to be going. If you are fearful of talking to your boss, do a drive-by—a quick encounter. Stop by your boss’s office and ask, “Have you got a minute?” Then go in and say something short and specific and leave. Breaking your action down into small steps makes it far less daunting.

Keep moving toward your fear. In order to succeed in your challenge you need to keep moving toward it. As you do, you’ll notice it growing smaller and more manageable. What’s more, as your fears recede, your confidence grows. In time, your fears will have lost their control over you.

Practice and practice. if you want to get over the fear, you have to do what you are afraid of over and over again. Keep having brief conversations. Have more interactions and gradually increase their length and complexity, so you can keep practicing. Every time you do, you move closer to your goal.

Visualize successful outcome. Every day, take a moment to visualize success over your fear. Visualize having dialogue that is easy and comfortable. See it working; see yourself being successful. Imagine yourself standing up straight with a smile, moving confidently. In every respect, act as if you already have the courage you want to see.

When you force yourself to face a fear-inducing situation, your self-esteem, self-respect and sense of personal pride increases and eventually you reach the point in life where you can look fear straight on and be brave.

Lead from within: Fear is normal, but it’s when you no longer allow yourself to be driven by your fears that life becomes truly rewarding.

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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.


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