Driving Fear Out of The Organization

 “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company” - W. Edwards Deming

"Drive Fear Out" is Point 8 of Deming's famous 14 Points for Management, which makes it a pretty high priority item from the father of lean manufacturing and Total Quality Management.

And the reason behind that priority was explained by Peter F. Drucker when he wrote:

“Modern behavioural psychology has demonstrated that great fear coerces, while remnants of fear cause only resentment and resistance… Lesser fears destroy motivation."

Demings and Drucker are often seen as primary sources of modern organizational development and management theory. Much of what has followed either came from or was heavily influenced by their work.

And both felt compelled to specifically address the need to “drive fear out of the organization".

Additional Statements on Fear by Deming

Here’s a bit more of what Deming had to say about Eliminating Fear:

  • “No one can put in his best performance unless he feels secure. Se comes from the Latin, meaning without, cure means fear or care. Secure means without fear, not afraid to express ideas, not afraid to ask questions. Fear takes on many faces. A common denominator of fear in any form, anywhere, is loss from impaired performance and padded figures.”
  • “Allow people to perform at their best by ensuring that they're not afraid to express ideas or concerns.”
  • “Make workers feel valued, and encourage them to look for better ways to do things.”
  • Ensure that your leaders are approachable and that they work with teams to act in the company's best interests.”
  • “Use open and honest communication to remove fear from the organization.”

Fearless vs. Fear Driven

Of course, The Fearless Leaders Coaching Model would rather focus on creating Fearlessness and Courage and Mindfulness than “driving out” Fear. Positive psychology tells us to focus on what you want, rather than what you wish to avoid, after all.

But we quote Demings because his phrasing does point out an often overlooked point:

He assumed (rightly) that there WAS fear within most organizations, and that it would not go away on its own, but had to be “driven” out.

The Fear of Failure

And the most common fear in today’s company is the fear of failure, which is why The Courage to Fail is one of the principle characteristics of a fearless leader and one of the 4 Quadrants in the Fearless Leaders Coaching Model.

Just think about any leader, mentor, or coach who inspired people to follow them and put people at ease. Anyone who had a genuine "command presence."

Having the majority of your leaders creating this kind of command climate is what creates bold and winning organizations and teams.

More importantly, it's not the opposite of that which creates a fearful workplace -- that would be too easy. It's merely the absence of fearless leaders that creates a fear-driven workplace.

This is why fear is assumed to exist by Demings and why he believes that it has to be driven out by something positive.

Fear Spreads From The Top Down

When leaders fear failure, they stop taking bold, authentic action.

And when they can’t be fully present and mindful in the face of stress, bad news, and uncomfortable circumstances, then everyone else around them senses that intuitively, at a gut level. They can smell the fear and their own behavior is adjusted accordingly.

This impacts everything that matters to high-performing organizations:

  • Trust,
  • Communication,
  • Knowledge sharing,
  • Cooperation,
  • Innovation,
  • Retention,
  • and Overall organization effectiveness

All of these things are hurt or degraded by fear — even when (especially when!) the fears aren't explicitly acknowledge and are hidden by various behavioral masks.

The Good News

The good news is that all of these positive traits are also created and cultivated by the Fearless Leaders Coaching Model

And that’s the point: you can’t drive out the fear unless you address the source — unless you train your leadership to become fearless, one leader at a time.

So you start at the top and work your way down, training each leader in The New Science of Courage, Mindfulness, and Emotional Intelligence, while giving them all the toolsets and exercises of the Fearless Leader.

That way confidence and authentic, fearless action become the attitudes and habits that flow downhill, inspiring courageous work at every level.

Start Making Your Organization Fearless

Want to drive fear out of your organization?

Work with the Fearless Leaders Group

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