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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

17 Nov '13

When there is fear in your organization

Posted by T.J. Addington
Fear in any organization is a sign that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. It could be over a changing marketplace that has put people's jobs in jeopardy, a manager who takes retaliation on those who choose to tell them what they think (yes it happens in ministry as well), a product launch that didn't go well or a department that has a toxic environment. Whatever it is, where there is fear there is an issue that needs to be addressed by leaders. It happens in ministries and the secular workplace.

The cause of the fear may not seem rational to leadership but that does not mean that the issue does not need to be addressed. Often fear is the result of anticipated organizational changes or a known issue that raises feelings of uncertainty for staff. Leaders forget that they know more than their staff and have context for what is happening while staff often do not. Whether it feels rational or not to leaders, fear is something that needs to be addressed.

Leaders cannot always say everything they know but they should be as candid as they can be in addressing the source of fear where it exists. People respond well to candor and a discussion on even difficult issues a business or ministry is dealing with. They trust candid leaders while those who withhold information are less trusted. "Just tell us what it is and we will deal with it" is the desire of most staff.

Of course, if the fear comes from a dysfunctional leader and their behavior that dysfunction needs to be addressed at its source. Again there may be a need for a candid conversation with those involved and an apology by a staff member who has caused the issue.

When there is fear: Don't ignore it; be candid about the issues that have caused it and if necessary deal with leaders whose behavior brings fear with them. Fear is a symptom of something that needs to be addressed.