July 26, 2011
News & Opinion: Breaking the Fear Barrier
After battling numerous attempts by wasps to set up shop around our house, my fear of bees seems to have intensified. Each time a nest building was aborted, a new one appeared, and the fear became stronger. They cannot be stopped, it seemed. And life is full of those kinds of concerns. There are all sorts of dark looming clouds above us waiting to shut out the sun at any given time. And companies are like compounded sources of this concern, as they battle competition, internal issues, profitability, efficiency, and a wide variety of situations where fear can rage throughout the entire organization, causing grief far beyond a bee sting. Tom Reiger, Senior Practice Expert for Gallup, knows this very well. In fact, he's researched it extensively, and has written a book called Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies From the Inside Out and What to do About it. In it, he identifies three levels of fear-based bureacracy: Parochialism: Managers create functional silos by instituting protective policies and rules. They define success locally rather than organizationally. Territorialism: Driven by fear of losing control over resources to other departments, managers seek to maintain absolute control over the people and resources in their department. Empire building: Often a defensive response to the territorialism of another department, managers attempt to regain or enhance their self-sufficiency by increasing their span of control and building an empire. Do any of these seem like the situation your company is in? Then let this post be a call to you, and managers everywhere: Fear Not! Rieger's book offers a process for systematically breaking this process down and replacing it with a culture of courage, where employees live and work productively and positively. Take a look and break your own fear barriers.