5 Fears That Give Leaders Nightmares (And How to Conquer Them)

Everyone has their own fears — including leaders. When it comes to leadership-related fears, you should not let those fears get in the way of leading effectively. 

Properly identifying, managing, and understanding your fears is the key to conquering those fears and paving the way toward successful leadership. Here are the 5 most common fears that most leaders have and some tips on how to conquer them. 

1. Fear of failure

Being in charge of the company and the livelihood of your employees can be a heavy burden to bear, but it doesn’t have to be the source of constant stress and anxiety for you. Every leader fears failure — especially when all eyes are on them. However, failure is an important part of the learning process. In fact, you cannot become a successful leader without having experienced some sort of failure along the way. 

Failure comes in many different forms: going with the wrong strategy, choosing the wrong people, disappointing your customers — failure is inevitable, and you should not fear it. Fearing failure might lead you to miss opportunities to learn and grow, and it might cause you to regret those missed chances. The most important thing is that you own up to your failure, learn from it, and adjust your actions along the way. 

2. Fear of speaking

The fear of speaking in public is one of the most common fears that people have worldwide. But public speaking and communicating with your team is one of the most important parts of your job as a leader. Not only should you communicate clearly, but you also need to be persuasive and confident when speaking if you want to inspire your audience to support your cause.

So what can you do to overcome this fear? Try to take every opportunity you can to practice your speaking skills, whether it is during team meetings, client presentations, or conferences. The more you practice it, the more confident you will be. In short, to overcome this particular fear, you have to face it head on. 

3. Fear of being criticized

As a leader, your team will rely on you to make the right calls. However, most of the time, you cannot please everyone with the decisions you make. There will be disagreements and criticism from people around you (even those who are not involved), so you should expect it and get used to it quickly. 

In fact, the best way to handle the fear of criticism is to actively ask for feedforward from your team regularly. You can do this by using a 360 degree survey, by asking specific questions related to your performance as a leader or how they feel about a particular decision you made. By being more self-aware and proactive in asking for your team’s feedforward, you will not only be able to take criticism in stride, you will also gain a lot of insight that will help you improve yourself and your company. 

4. Fear of responsibility and hard decisions

It’s important for leaders to embrace the fact that you are responsible for your team’s livelihood, your customers, and other stakeholders in your business. Responsibility is not something that you should fear. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember that your team is there to support you. Working together with your team will help you lighten your burden of responsibility. 

This also goes for decision-making. Everyone can make poor decisions. Sometimes it’s about making a decision and moving forward with it. Indecisiveness and being stuck in “paralysis of analysis” can hinder your company from moving forward. 

But there are also times when you have to take the time to sit on a decision, even if it means losing the momentum or a good opportunity. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself to the best of your ability and make the best possible decisions you can at that time. 

5. Fear of being seen as an imposter

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? That somebody has made a mistake hiring you? That you are not smart enough or good enough to lead? You are not alone. This is called the imposter syndrome and many people have experienced this, especially when they are in a new  leadership position or a new role within a new company. 

Feeling like an imposter can stop you from actively contributing in meetings or work, which will decrease your effectiveness. However, you have to realize that most of the time, you’re not the only one in the room feeling like an imposter. Overcoming this feeling will allow you to contribute fully and maximize your impact. 

Don’t let fear hold you back

Experiencing fear is natural, but never let it hinder you from reaching your full potential or helping others do the same. Fear is there to help remind you that you are alive, that you are on the cusp of something great, that you are being brave enough to do something that others might refuse to do. 

So today, choose to be brave and defeat your fears. 



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