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5 Hidden Fears of Many Leaders

Mon, Mar. 14, 2016 Posted: 01:01 PM


I’ve learned through working with dozens of pastors and leaders, if we are not careful, leadership can become a game we play rather than a mission we live. One leader tries to impress another leader and all leaders, at one time or another, try to impress the people we are attempting to lead. Part of the key to “winning the game” is supposedly the leader bluffing everyone into thinking he or she has everything within his or her sphere of responsibility under control.

Leader, be honest – How often has that been true for you?

As leaders, we aren’t always honest about how we are feeling – especially the fears we have as a leader. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten rule we have to hide our true emotions because, if people knew what we were really feeling they may not respect us, they may not follow us, and – just being candid – they may not even like us.

Which, being unliked is some leader’s greatest fear.

No denying, there is high expectation for leaders to be excellent in their roles. I’m not trying to lump more pressure on leaders, but I believe many times, if we are honest about the pressures we face, about our own shortcomings, weaknesses and – even our fears, we would be better grounded to face them. We would also attract loyal followers who would be more willing to help fill in the gaps of our leadership.

And, we would better welcome the strength of God in our lives when we admit our weaknesses. His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we dropped the game playing and revealed the true fears we have in leadership?

Call me a Snitch if you want, but I’m breaking the silence. Be honest if you can often identify with this any of these hidden fears.

Here are 5 hidden fears of many leaders:

I don’t know what to do! – Okay, what’s new? Leadership takes people places they’ve never been, which often includes the leader. If things are staying the same you won’t need a leader. Unchartered waters mean learning on the job at times. Many leaders drown in their own ignorance, refusing to ask for help. Great leaders know they don’t have all the answers and are willing to seek input from others. Seek a mentor. Hire a coach or consultant. Recruit a board of advisers. Get another degree. Keep learning. It’s part of maturing as a leader.

I can’t keep up! – Duh! You’re leading. This means you’re going somewhere. The pace of good leadership in a rapidly changing world is often mind-boggling. The sense of being overwhelmed should not be a secret. In fact, if one is walking by faith, it should be a necessity. Learning to navigate through untested waters, and growing from the experience, is a part of successful leadership. Find the help you need now. It starts by admitting you need help. The leaders who achieve success long-term are constantly improving – continually refining their leadership style and abilities.

I’m afraid of the unknown!– Seriously, who wouldn’t be? If things are growing, (or declining) demands are building and there are days with more questions than answers, human emotions are only natural. And, fear seems like the most logical one. Follow King David’s advice. When you’re afraid, trust in God. You may be scared. He’s not. Cast your cares upon Him. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Your situation won’t cause Him to be dismayed. Be bold and admit your fears of what’s next – fears of what could happen – fears of what you don’t even know you’re fearing – to a few trusted advisers. Allow others to speak reality and strength into your life. You can do this!

I don’t know if I’m the right person for this job! – It’s common for leaders to question their position at times. It could be they have done all they were called to do. It could be they are bored. It could be God is stirring their hearts for something new. It could simply be a temporary emotion. Don’t suppress the emotion. Press into it and figuring out the source of the emotion. It may lead to something good. Allow others to help you discern and listen for the heart of God on the matter.

I don’t feel appreciated or respected.– Every leader needs respect. It’s what fuels us many days. Knowing we have a team of people willing to follow us into the unknown fuels our desire to lead even better. Consider why you feel this way. Is it an insecurity on your part or is it warranted by your actions? Regardless of the reason, this emotion has tremendous power to derail good leadership. Great leaders admit they don’t have all the answers, but, at the same time, they are confident in who they are and what God has called them to do. Most people will follow a humble, but confident leader. My best advice is to lead well, keep improving, show people you genuinely care and give them something worth following. In spite of how you feel, if you’re leading with confidence and humility, they’ll respect you. If not, they wouldn’t respect anyone.

The hidden fears of leadership are real. Just admit it, leader. Whether you are leading a family or leading a Fortune 500 company the emotions of fear will sometimes seem stronger even than reality. Don’t lead in isolation. Don’t lead alone.

By Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson