How Leaders Manage Fear

how leaders manage fear

The Three Little Pigs is famous for the themes of fear and the cost of being unprepared.  In the story, two of the Three Little Pigs proved woefully unprepared to deal with the Big Bad Wolf’s aggression. While they had good reason to fear, they paid a hefty price for not knowing how to manage their fear — Mr. B.B. Wolf feasted (literally and figuratively) on the fear of these two petrified porkers. However, Little Pig Number Three managed his fear, prepared himself accordingly and in spite of an admittedly uncomfortable situation, was able to cook up a piping hot kettle of “wolf drop soup.”

Let’s move from fairy tale to reality. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke these words during one of the darkest, most devastating economic depressions the U.S. has ever known. Roosevelt realized our country’s greatest problem was the paralysis of the people by their own fears. They needed a leader to show them how to manage their fear.

It’s still true today. Some leaders are afraid to offer their thoughts in a meeting for fear of being judged wrong; while other leaders are afraid not to speak up for fear of being judged detached and disinterested. Some leaders are afraid to accept the next available leadership opportunity for fear of failing at it; while others are afraid not to accept a leadership opportunity for fear there won’t be another.

How Leaders Manage Fear

Leaders don’t know how to manage fear of things like making decisions, having confrontations, taking responsibility — I could go on huffing and puffing and threatening to blow your leadership house down. But instead, in Chapter 9 of Leaders Ought To Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership I offer a path of preparedness.  For leaders to manage fear, the first step is to recognize certain facts:

1.  All leaders fear something.

2.  The “unknown” is a breeding ground for fear – for you and for your followers.

3.  Successful leaders consciously choose to acknowledge fear and work to overcome it.

Knowing how to manage fear isn’t a fairy tale — get the rest of the story in Leaders Ought to Know when it releases later this month. For more information, visit:

Phillip Van Hooser
Leadership Expert, Keynote Speaker
Author of Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership

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Phillip Van Hooser

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on engaged leadership and communication. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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