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5 Hidden Fears of Many Leaders

There are some hidden fears shared by many leaders. And those fears, if left to do as unanswered fear does in our life, can be dangerous.

As leaders, there’s a charade we can be tempted to play about how we are feeling. It’s as if there’s an unwritten rule we have to hide our true emotions. Falsely we can believe that if people knew what we were really feeling they may not respect us, may not follow us, and – just being candid – may not even like us.

Which, being unliked is a common hidden fear.

No denying, there is a 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.

Even more importantly, 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 being honest about some of these hidden fears – that I share at times myself.

5 hidden fears of many leaders:

I’m afraid because I don’t know what to do!

Okay, so what’s new? Leadership takes people, including the leader, places they’ve never been. If things are staying the same you won’t need a leader. Uncharted 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. (Read 2 Chronicles 20 for this one.)

I’m afraid because I can’t seem to keep up!

Of course! You’re leading. This means you’re going somewhere new. The pace of life 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. (Read Exodus 18 for more on this.)

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. 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! (Check out Judges 6 for more on this one.)

I’m afraid I might not be the right person for this job (anymore)!

It’s common for leaders to question their position at times. Perhaps they have done all they were called to do. It could be they are bored. Maybe 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. (Read Exodus 3 for more about this one!)

I’m afraid people don’t appreciate or respect me!

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. (See Matthew 10:3 and then share what you know about Thaddeus.)

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.

Who is willing to be honest today about your hidden fears?

Which of these is your current, most hidden emotion?

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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