This quote opens a beautiful writing, Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson. Although she is known for inspirational writings, she gives a gift to leaders in these words. I quote it on a regular basis to leaders who find themselves afraid to act. When asked what is frightening them, some don’t know. Upon further query, what surfaces is not fear of taking action, but fear of what others will think about them if they do. Having been personally impacted by this dynamic, I am very interested in helping leaders release this specific fear.
Fear of what others think about leaders is one of the greatest obstacles in many companies supported by Gwen, Inc. Rather than stepping boldly towards goals, leaders hold back. Rather than saying what needs to be said, leaders hold back. Rather than standing in truth, leaders work against their values. This behavior is paralyzing, leaving leaders feeling inadequate.
Something truly powerful happens when leaders release concern over what others think. This very action positions leaders to be powerful beyond measure as Williamson describes. The most poignant part of this writing for me is “your playing small does not serve the world.” People trapped in fear of what others think always play small, because it is terrifying to play big when concerned with reactions from others. What can leaders do to address this fear?