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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.

21 May '12

Fear based leadership

There are ministry leaders whose primary leadership trait is that of fear. Before any decision is made, there are endless discussions of whether the decision is right, lots of second guessing, revisiting of the issue, dragging feet on pulling the trigger and anxiety about whether they should move forward or not. If some leaders are too impulsive, fear based leaders are so risk adverse and fearful of something going wrong that they become paralyzed by that fear.


This is crazy making for staff who want to get on with things and become frustrated when their decisions or recommendations get the same scrutiny, questions, and reservations as their boss's. Endless meetings are had, issues rehashed time and again, decisions made and then revisited. 


Why? Because the senior leader is so driven by not making a mistake, not communicating something improperly, not doing something that might fail. It is caution gone amok. It causes him or her not only to scrutinize their own decisions but those of others and leads to micromanaging the work of others out of the same fear. It is fear based leadership and is not true leadership at all.


Fearful leadership comes out of a lack of self confidence, deep anxiety about making a bad call and fear of what others will think if they make a poor decision. The fear paralysis of the leader becomes a paralysis for the organization as a whole. Because leading is about being in front of others, leading them into the future, fear based leadership is not leadership at all but is really just the opposite: keeping the organization from moving forward out of an abundance of caution. 


Fear based leaders need serious coaching or counseling to get at the root of the fear that haunts them. Unless they can understand those fears and face them they will not be able to lead or if they do will not attract and keep other good staff. 


If you suffer from decision making fear ask yourself, "What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if the decision went south?" How likely is that worst thing to happen? If it did would it be so bad? One soon realizes that the fear is not only unfounded but silly when you play out the scenario.