Think about your top three fears…. Now think about how often these fears actually become realities. If you’re anything like me, you may fear things like failure or looking foolish in front of your peers or boss rather than being afraid of starving or being attacked by a wild animal like our hunter-gatherer predecessors. Unlike our ancestors, who needed a heightened sense of awareness and increased level of fear in order to survive, our irrational fears harm us and keep us from success in and out of the workplace. Fear has brought many individuals and organizations to their knees and in an interesting article written by Margie Warrell, she shares several methods that leaders can use in order foster a culture that replaces fear with courage and complacency with creativity.

First, every organization that strives to cultivate an open and creative atmosphere must have leaders who are willing to engage with their employees. This will create a high level of trust within the organization as well as nurture courage and self-confidence. As an intern at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp I can attest to the courageous character that is woven into the company’s DNA. Unlike most of my college friends who are interning with companies that take pride in corporate hierarchies and ladders, I sit alongside my superiors and have been encouraged to voice my opinions and ideas with them as well as speak openly with them. Fear becomes nonexistent when open communication and strong connections exists between leaders and subordinates.

Second, an effective leader can inspire and engage each and every individual within the organization. This inspiration can also look like a leader communicating to their employees the bigger picture and the importance of their personal contribution. In doing this, employees will find more purpose in their work, resulting in improved morale and increased productivity.

Third, a great leader must be capable of leading through example. As humans we like to play it safe, and the best way to steer away from a menial, droning, corporate culture is to have a leader who sets the bar high; allowing others to test and challenge the status quo. This kind of culture will embolden employees, which will result in more innovative thinking, increased motivation, and improved communication within the office. On my first day I was introduced to the Fail Wall (a wall covered with quotes from employees’ personal failures) and I have managed to get my own story up there within a month of starting. In addition to the Fail Wall, the company has adopted a Work Hard, Play Harder philosophy which has created an open and engaging corporate culture where a closed sale is celebrated with a game of ping pong or a beer in the company break room. The road to a more courageous work environment is nothing more than leadership that Engages, Inspires, and Emboldens. 

Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar, Flickr