Fear – it’s a topic that always comes up in Fierce Conversations. No doubt, Fierce Conversations often happen out on a limb. People call those limbs CLMs (career limiting moves). Sometimes they are CLMs, and other times they are CEMs (career enhancing moves). We don’t necessarily know if a particular conversation is going to be a CLM or CEM. In an abundant economy, people seemed more willing to take the risk and enter into the conversation. In a down economy such as the one that we are in now, I see an epidemic of people pulling back into their shells out of fear (i.e. job security). The problem is that now is when organizations need their people’s very best thinking, innovation, feedback and pushback.
While Fierce Conversations focuses on radical self-accountability, how can a leader provide a context that mitigates other people’s fear? One of my favorite parts of the Fierce program is where the facilitator talks about a leader who realized that his leadership style promoted a context of fear – it’s no wonder no one spoke up – speaking up was clearly a CLM. Once the leader realized the effect that his leadership style had, he changed. The next time someone pushed backed he stopped and pointed out to everyone in a serious tone, “Did you see what she just did?!?!.... That’s EXACTLY what I want from all of you!” He turned a CLM into a CEM and set a new expectation for everyone else.
How have you worked through the fear issue at your organization? Have you noticed a correlation between the down economy and the degree of fear? What business results do you see in a fear based culture? Have you ever gone into a conversation that you thought was going to be a CLM and had it turn into a CEM?