High Performing Leaders Replace Fears With Purpose
In our work with CEOs and executives, we have found that leaders who actively start to replace their fears — or just give more importance to their higher purpose and goals — increase their effectiveness.
For example, I had one client who ran a highly visible non-profit organization, and who had developed an innovated
strategy for how to serve underprivileged children . To implement her ideas, she needed to step out in a very public and visible way, writing, giving speeches and presentations. She really believed in her idea, but could not guarantee it would work, and was afraid of being seen and judged as a fraud by other leaders in the non-profit world.
Although she believed deeply in her vision, she found herself procrastinating when it came to networking, instead keeping herself occupied with busywork. As we talked through these behaviors, she realized there was an inner conflict between her fears and her bold new vision. Not acting out her strategy made her feel out of integrity.
I coached her through
the conflict by clarifying two things:
- Connect to the pain of her counterproductive behavior. Meaning when she procrastinated, and avoided doing what she needed to do, what was the pain associated with that?
In my client’s case, the pain she connected with was judging herself and feeling bad about herself because she knew she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to do. More painful was the sense that she was letting down her team members and the children she most wanted to serve.
- Connect with what she wanted and needed that was more important than her fears.
These are very personal, and could be a need, a value, a higher purpose.
My client felt a deep need to be authentic as a leader, and to feel a sense of integrity that her behaviors supported her core values and sense of purpose. By making a connection with this need, she was able to switch from focusing on her fears to focusing on her aspirations.
The aspirational higher purpose she connected with was her genuine desire to serve the children of the underprivileged communities her non-profit worked with. This really was her passion, and was much more important than her fears about how people might perceive her. As she cultivated this clarity, she became more bold, audacious and courageous in her actions and outreach to the community.
Today, her organization is held up as a pioneer in innovative support of underprivileged communities.
What core needs, values and higher purpose do you have that you can connect with that are bigger than your fears? We would love to hear your comments.