Leading With Change + Innovation

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“If you really want to know about business, you should refer to Scott Steinberg.” -Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

7 Biggest Fears in Business Today – And How to Beat Them

Dear Business Leaders: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

The trick isn’t to avoid fear, it’s to embrace the discomfort, learn from it, and do the damn thing anyway… At least, it is if you’re a fan of growth, success, and staying relevant in an ever-changing world, or so new insights from the world’s most innovative businesses, brands, and market leaders reveal.

Findings shows that:

FEAR IS THE #1 SINGLE BIGGEST BARRIER TO GROWTH, PRODUCTIVITY, AND SUCCESS IN THE WORKPLACE.

FEAR COMES IN MULTIPLE FLAVORS – THERE ARE ACTUALLY 7 DIFFERENT TYPES OF FEAR THAT STAND BETWEEN US AND ACHIEVING OUR GOALS.

AT ODDS WITH TRADITIONAL THINKING, INSIGHTS SHOW, THE TRICK TO FINDING SUCCESS IS TO TAKE MORE, NOT FEWER PROFESSIONAL RISKS… Doubly so in a fast-moving and highly disruptive working world.

But as interviews with scores of leading business researchers, academics, and senior leaders at global innovators such as Cisco, Merck, and EMC for bestselling book Make Change Work for You – whose insights are captured in the following infographic – also illustrate though, fear needn’t be our adversary. In fact, learning to embrace fear and listening to the signals it sends us can actually be the ultimate source of growth and competitive advantage.

Below, you’ll find a summary of findings – and several simple solutions that any business or working professional can apply to unleash creativity, unlock innovation, and drive ongoing growth by making more courageous decisions.

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As you can see, among the key sources of fear impacting organizations and individuals are:

  1. Failure. The possibility of being unable to successfully achieve a goal or complete a task set by yourself or others.
  1. Embarrassment. The shame and self-consciousness felt when one feels humiliated, unable to live up to expectations, or socially conform.
  1. Underperformance. Performing at a level that you or others believe to be less than adequate, or not reflective of your full potential.
  1. Rejection. When you, your company, or the products or services you represent are refused, turned away, or avoided by others.
  1. Change and Uncertainty. The process of acting or reacting differently—and the discomfort that accompanies these shifts or surrounding risks and uncertainties.
  1. Confrontation. Having a negative or event hostile personal or professional interaction with others.
  1. Isolation. The feeling of being alone or left to operate solo without others’ support.

Clearly, talented workers and businesses are often being held back from finding success by these fears – fears which business leaders are often loath to acknowledge, or discuss in the workplace.

But while the subject may be an uncomfortable one, avoidance of fear (and discussions surrounding it) not only impacts both individuals’ and businesses’ decision-making and on-the-job performance – it does so on a profound and recurring basis as well. Just a few notable symptoms can manifest themselves as:

  • Resistance to change
  • Inability to tolerate risk
  • Unwillingness to grow and learn
  • Opposition to fresh ideas and approaches
  • Idleness and stagnation

Unfortunately, business cultures and environments where fear is prevalent ultimately become ones where creativity and innovation can quickly perish. Happily, as the infographic illustrates, solutions to these symptoms are readily at-hand.

No longer does fear near to be an obstacle to individual or organizational growth: By taking a few simple steps to course-correct, it’s possible to quickly and successfully vault yourself outside of your comfort zone – and achieve the success that comes with taking smart risks, facing conflict, and applying more practical strategies for innovation.

Just a few key shifts in perspective – e.g. discovering the value in addressing growing sources of concern, and focusing on risk variables that you can control – can completely revamp your relationship with fear, to the betterment of yourself, your work, and your organization.

Better still, research shows that taking these small steps can produce a massively positive impact on your life and your work. Moving beyond fear means that possibilities are limitless.

Note: For additional information on how to overcome obstacles to professional and personal change, you may also wish to see recent bestseller Make Change Work for You, which includes a simple formula for creating a competitive advantage and proven strategies for unleashing creativity and innovation.

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