Managing Fear and Avoiding Paralysis in Organizations©


March 2009

 

If these are not difficult times for you and your organization, you are either very lucky, incredibly resilient, or out of touch with reality. 

Challenging times require performance beyond standard operating procedures.  People in the organization must perform better than ever.  They take on nastier challenges with fewer resources.  And the most depleted resources are often inside themselves. They feel less energetic, more distracted, discouraged, fearful, and impotent.

The environment demands coordinated, judicious, innovative, and competent work when the understandable impulse for most humans is to just crawl into their dens and lick their wounds. Leaders must get people to perform at their best when they feel their worst.  This is not a common competency among leaders because few of them have experiences working with people when the dangers, distractions, and fears have become chronic.  Fear that lasts too long with no end in sight causes different manifestations of immobilization — paralysis. 

Thus, leaders are stretched with the demands on the organization and increased, more complex needs from their people.  Those demands require exceptional judgment on the part of the leaders who may be feeling the most pressure.  Who takes care of the leaders, particularly if they are not sure how to manage the people issues?  How many of your leaders have the resilience to perform and survive in such an environment?  Hopefully they all do.  But you have probably had some fleeting questions like:

  • How many of them are at risk?
  • How do you know if they are at risk?
  • What kind of support do they need and what is support in a case like this?
  • What diminishes fear and what makes it worse?

We will examine these challenges with a small group of seasoned leaders and consultants.  The group will be no larger than 10 to 15.  We will spend four hours after breakfast in an informal setting examining the concepts and actions to master those challenges. 

The faculty consists of two psychiatrists whose practice is devoted to working with leaders on the problems of getting the best from their people.  One has been doing this work since 1969 and the other since 1992.  The other consultants are seasoned executives from industries such as finance and manufacturing. 

The stage will be set with an informal presentation on the leadership challenges today, understanding and managing fear, the role of loss, and signs that alert you to potential danger. 

After the presentation, which will encourage group participation, there will be a discussion to understand and expand on the concepts.  It will include experiences with addressing fear, immobilization, and other problematic responses of distressed people. 

There will be a presentation on actions to prevent and diminish fear and paralysis before the final discussion on the topic. Because we know your time is valuable, this is designed to develop some pragmatic tools for one of the more shadowy aspects of leadership.  It is an opportunity to take four hours to think in depth about something that is present and crosses your mind daily: The human risks of leading people in a tough environment