At a recent round table for Powerful Women in Energy and Environment Leaders, a topic of being a scary leader came under discussion. Courageous leaders dare to go where others do not. They have the ability to forge new trails, face the unknown, and act decisively. This is the opportunity of the green economy – whether it’s building electric vehicles, wind turbines, sustainable buildings, cleaning oil spills, etc.
It’s not that courageous leaders don’t feel fear, but they are able to move past it, usually inspired by the potential to do something important for people, and in this group’s case, the planet. In today’s complex business world, and energy industry, most would argue that we need all the courageous leaders we can find right now.
That is unless you are the boss of a courageous leader and you are accountable for this leader’s results. Courageous leaders typically do not dwell on doubts about how things will turn out. That is what helps them be able to act so boldly. But the bosses job is to mitigate risk for the company and you aren’t sure your courageous leader even SEES risk.
Scariness factors: What if risks are under attended to or unmanaged and I end up looking responsible? What will top management think of my leadership when she is getting all the attention?
Or, what about working for a courageous leader and having to follow this leader into battle? Scary! Courageous leaders seek battles because they know that is where the action is to change, improve or start something. They can’t wage big battles alone so call in their team. If you are on this team, and the initiative you are working on is big, bold and different, it is guaranteed your comfort zones will be pushed and fear will rise up.
Scariness factors: Who will protect me if this project goes bad? What happens to my bonus or performance rating if I can’t do my part? Why do I feel like I am going to walk off a cliff?
Courageous leaders I work with face these scenarios routinely. The successful ones realize they evoke fear all around them and put strategies in place to manage this. Those who struggle forget to do this and often find themselves in trouble with upper management, dealing with under performing team members, alienating colleagues and numerous other derailers.
What are you doing to manage being so scary?
Executive Coach and Head of Environment & Energy Practice