A recent blog penned by Seth Godin entitled ‘Afraid of afraid’ highlights how our culture persistently reminds us that being afraid is a weakness and that “confessing fear is a failure and it’s better to lie than to appear un-brave”.

As a result, we often pretend to be experts and have all the answers. We resist change as it’s safer to maintain the status quo.

His article really struck a chord and echoed so many discussions that take place on Impellus Leadership and Management courses.

The truth is…

Modern-day leaders and managers can’t possibly know everything and have all the answers. We are living in a world that is ever-changing and full of uncertainty and ambiguity.

Effective leaders embrace this reality and surround themselves with people who have the knowledge and experience to help them make informed decisions. They ask the right questions rather than ‘flying solo’ for fear of appearing vulnerable.

This doesn’t guarantee the decision is correct – but at least it is based on something tangible rather than just uninformed guesswork.

Godin goes on to say “Fear of being afraid keeps things on our to-do list forever, and keeps important conversations from happening”.

Effective leaders and managers have drive and determination. They seek opportunities to always find a better way and make things happen. They are not afraid of making mistakes or appearing unsure. They have difficult conversations but demonstrate encouragement and support while doing so. They create an environment of trust and respect where contributions from all are welcomed and listened to. They are confident, brave and self-aware.

Would you rather blag and bluff than show uncertainty?

Are you comfortable saying “I don’t know” or “I got it wrong”?

Godin’s final quote is “The bravest leaders and contributors aren’t worried about appearing afraid. It allows them to see the world more clearly.”

Are you afraid of appearing afraid?


Written by David Ross – Learning & Development Consultant


Impellus is a UK-wide provider of management, leadership and core commercial skills training. See our relevant courses:

Management & Leadership Skills

ILM Courses in Leadership & Management

Commercial & Professional Skills Training