DiBona & Associates
DiBona & Associates

How Top Leaders Manage Their Fear of Failure

26.04.22 03:00 PM By Noel DiBona

Most everyone at one point or another has a fear of failing. However, there are ways to overcome our fear of failure.

According to a 2018 survey by Norwest Venture, 90 percent of CEOs “admit fear of failure keeps them up at night more than any other concern.” (“Olga Sommer MIH, SJS - Sillamyae Institute of Economics and Management”)

Leaders that yield to their fears have great difficulty achieving their goals. These leaders become mired down in being average, being ordinary. Mediocrity is the flip side to the fear of failure.

On the other hand, if you can learn how to manage your fear of failure, you will be capable of achieving much better circumstances for you and your team.

"Greatness is not a function of circumstance. greatness, 
it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice." 
- James C. Collins

Although many people want to overcome their fear of failure, few actually make it happen. If we can better understand why we limit ourselves by succumbing to our fear of failure, we can learn how to help ourselves and our teammates deal with this issue.

As it turns out, fear of failure is more about not wanting to feel shame. According to Dr. Guy Winch, an expert on the subject of failure, “People who have a fear of failure are motivated to avoid failing not because they cannot manage the basic emotions of disappointment, anger, and frustration that accompany such experiences but because failing also makes them feel deep shame. ("Conquer Your Fear of Failure").

When you look at how competitive the workplace has become, few people want to take on significant change. They want to avoid the potential of failing and the shame that comes along with failure.

In addition, our multigenerational workforce has shown that anxiety and fear of failure is actually greater among Gen Z and Millennials, as outlined in a number of sources, including “Stress in America Findings,” published by the American Psychological Association.

All this being said, how can we get a handle on our anxiety and fear of failure?

It is through self-awareness that we can unlock our ability to overcome fear.

The Harvard Business Review has done multiple studies on self-awareness and has determined that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

A simple solution: The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment identifies the difference between an individual’s intrinsic drives and needs versus their perceptions of how they believe they need to behave in their workplace. When we can reconcile these two sets of data, we are able to better understand what is at the root of a person’s fear. More importantly, the assessment gives them insight into what they can do to change how they view their fear of failure. Armed with this knowledge they can take advantage of personal and professional growth opportunities.

The Predictive behavioral assessment helps individuals learn about their communication and decision- making. how they communicate, make decisions, view risk, and how they resolve conflict. Decoding your personal drives and needs helps you to gain insight on how to better manage your fear of failure.

Top Ten Percent Leaders are more self-aware and are better able to manage their fear of failure.