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The Whistler Report

From Fear of Failure to Leadership's how!

Picture of Ninja the dog in the mountains
Ninja - our 'exchange dog' - enjoying the mountains.

I love Talking Change and recently I talked to leaders about their changes - taking on a new role, leading a new team, or focusing on a new mandate. I interviewed over 25 leaders to uncover their biggest fears and challenges and their goals as they embark on change. And what did I hear? Read on or watch this short video summary

Their biggest fear is...fear of failure. These are highly successful, seasoned leaders with many achievements to their names. They are people who you'd think would be oozing with confidence (and perhaps outwardly do so) and would be calm, cool, and collected in leading a new charge. But, they, like many of us, doubt their decisions at times, waiver in their abilities, and second-guess their experience when leading others in times of change. 

They told me their fear of failure stems from: 

  • An expectation gap – not knowing if their expectations match those of their new boss or organization. 
  • The 'new person bias' – feeling like they have a target on their back. 
  • Fumbling through ways to build trust with new colleagues. 
  • The need to deliver results asap, without the time to ramp up their knowledge of their new situation.
  • Feeling lonely in their new role – either as a senior leader or being in a new organization – they aren't comfortable sharing not-yet-fully-formed thoughts with colleagues or find themselves surrounded by people who don't challenges their ideas.
  • Not being a technical expert in their new role – they may bring years of leadership experience, but not years of technical expertise. 

Leaders are grappling with these personal fears and many organizational challenges too - talent attraction and retention, exhausted workforces, navigating WFH and hybrid workplaces, lack of resilience in employees, hidden agendas, and change fatigue - to name a few. I feel my heart racing and my breathing getting shallow as I write this...pausing to take a deep breath! (and waiting for you to do so too :)) 

So, how are they moving from fear of failure to building a leadership legacy? That is the million dollar question! Here's a sneak peak of what I learned and also ways I've helped leaders commit to action, make an impact, and create the movement in their new roles.

  • Identify your goals – what you want to achieve in your new role, not just goals for your team or organization
  • Focus on your strengths – to use your time and energy in the right places 
  • Create an executable plan – to solve the right problems
  • Engage with the right partners – to develop the best solutions 
  • Align the right team – to make the right decisions  
  • Deliver consistently – to improve results 
  • Inspire growth in people – to develop future leaders who will drive business growth  

I've created The AIM Roadmap - to help accelerate their impact and deliver results in a new leadership role. Learn more in this short video

In the next season of my Two Minutes of Talking Change podcast, I'll be focusing on the actions, reflections, and ideas needed to lead in a new role, because as I say in Talking Change: Must-Have Conversations for Successful Leaders, if you're a leader in today's organizations - you lead change.