Discomfort vs Fear

I’ve just hopped off a stage where I was talking about the future of work. The people who had been on before me had talked about being positive about it so I went for a more dystopian view (for a sense of balance and because I’d had a bad commute).

The people before had said that fear dominates the narrative around this stuff and I sort of agree. I don’t want people scared, I think that creates the wrong type of response.

I do, however, want people to feel a bit uncomfortable. Like when you know you should be doing something and you aren’t. Like when you feel you haven’t quite prepped for a meeting or you left the cooker on. I want people to think ‘I need to spend a bit more time on my decision making and its implications. In fact I need to reflect on where I spend my time’.

We mistake driving people through fear with giving them appropriate context that provokes them to choose to move. I remember being at a leadership event years ago and someone saying that the only way you can get anyone to do anything is to create a burning platform. Everyone else in the room had lied to their teams to make things seem more urgent. I think that’s a despicable approach. I think that creates fear, fatigue and destroys trust if you are rumbled. I can’t imagine a more limited approach to leadership that telling lies by default.

Explore problems together. Talk about your concerns. But don’t spread fear. It is possible to have urgency without.

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