To Reflect: The ‘Deadly 7’ Key Fears
When I talk about momentum and empowerment with my clients, the conversation so often ends up at the fears that hold their staff back.
So this week, here’s a quick summary of the 7 key fears that I see most often.
I call them the ‘Deadly 7’.
A FEAR OF BEING CUT DOWN (TALL POPPY)
Something that is particularly prevalent in my home country of Australia: Tall Poppy Syndrome. This is the levelling derision of anyone who thinks they should stand higher than everyone else. A Tall Poppy culture makes people afraid to stand tall and succeed.
A FEAR OF MEANINGLESS WORK
Anyone that has worked in a large, bureaucratic organisation likely knows the feeling all too well. Putting a lot of time and effort into something only to have it ignored, shelved and forgotten.
A FEAR OF INSUFFICIENT SKILL
i.e. a fear of not being skilled enough to succeed. If an individual doesn’t feel they are ‘good enough’ then that individual won’t expose themselves to change for risk of failure.
A FEAR OF BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF
Interestingly, the opposite to insufficient skill is also a catalyst for a fear – a fear of being taken advantage of. Anyone who is high in skill but low in assertiveness is particularly at risk here. When someone is scared of being taken advantage of, they will often hide their talent, doing just enough to get by.
A FEAR OF BREAKING NORMS
This fear is firmly rooted in your organisational culture. In short, your cultural status quo is a worthy adversary for any innovative mind. If the status quo is one that is risk adverse, or one that doesn’t promote honest and open discussion, then your team(s) are unlikely to challenge ideas or overtly drive improvement for fear of being labelled the ‘weird one’.
A FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT
No one likes being embarrassed, so they will avoid situations that place them at risk of being so. Anyone with an over-active feeling of imposter syndrome likely harbours this fear.
A FEAR OF PERSONAL NON-ALIGNMENT
A more modern, social media-driven phenomenon. This fear is at play when someone holds themselves back because they are concerned that it’s ‘not one of their passions’. After all, who wants to put extra effort into something that isn’t ‘speaking to them personally’? Even worse, what if you’re genuinely talented at ‘boring work’… does that mean that you are also boring?
Which of the Deadly 7 are you personally confronting on a day to day basis?
And which plague your teams?
There’s hope though. Fear can be countered through the normalisation of success, failure, reflection and learning.