Leaders are the trailblazing forces that courageously drive their companies to growth and greatness. They are the rock that keeps companies steady through turmoil. They are risk takers and innovators. They are the beacon that guides their followers with their light and wisdom. They are bold, visionary and a symbol of pride for companies. And they are relentless and fearless. However, if they were fearful does it mean they are weak and less effective as leaders? Will they lose the admiration of their followers? Will they be less inspirational?

There’s a common myth around leaders and leadership that being fearful is a flaw and sign of weakness. The fable continues to draw perceptions that to be innovative, visionary and even an exponential leader you need to be bold, courageous and fearless. While all that may be true to a certain extent, I believe leaders, like their followers and the rest of us, are just as fearful. And being fearful doesn’t necessarily make you a weak leader or have a less effective and successful leadership. Here’s why.

Fear Isn’t Necessarily Your Enemy

If you’ve watched the animated film called The Croods you’ll remember Grug (the father of the Croods) saying that “Fear keeps us alive. Never not be afraid!” Sure he was highly risk evasive, however, fear did keep them alive. If it weren’t for fear the entire family would be recklessly jumping upon situations that would have wiped out humans.

Being fearful doesn’t mean you’re evading risks or that you’re avoiding things. It just means you’re aware of the consequences and are cautious in how you approach challenges. Fear can serve you the purpose of making you mindful of what you’re about to get yourself into.

By staying in your comfort zone you’ll probably stay safe and never have to change a thing. You’ll also never push yourself to the limits and exploit your full potential. That’s what fear can do to most of us. However, if you were to see fear as an ally, you’ll realize that because of being fearful you’ll step out of your comfort zone with much more resolve to make it all work. And that’s because you fear threatening your business’s success. Hence, you’ll take a more calculated risk. However, you’ll still make that bold move because you know that in the times of exponential growth, your company’s sustainability depends on taking risks.

Be More Collaborative

One positive that can arise from fear is self-doubt. I know, it doesn’t sound like a positive at all. However, if you’re fearful you’ll doubt your moves and strategies and second guess your decisions, opening the doors to opinions of others around you. Sure you’ll be doubting yourself on the surface, however, you’ll also gain much meaningful insights from those around you which can lead to two things. One, you could be wrong altogether and so the advice you receive will help you alter your course in the right direction. Two, you could be absolutely bag on the mark and so you’ll get validation for your strategies. Thus, the collaboration that can spawn from your fearful state isn’t necessarily a bad.

Accept Reality

When you’re fearful of failure you’re basically prepared for it. You’ve seen what the worst possible outcome looks like, accepted it as a possible reality and you’ve braced yourself for it. You could say you’re so prepared for a negative outcome that you’ve planned mitigating steps to address them if they were to occur. Hence, by admitting your fears and looking them straight in the eye, you’re mentally preparing all possible ways to save and protect yourself.

Accept Failure and Move On

I understand that being a leader puts immense pressure on you to deliver and succeed. Not only does your business rely on you, but so does the livelihood of your team. It can be overbearing. And while you feel that failure is never an option, it’s a reality that many leaders have at some point in their careers faced. It’s inevitable. Failing isn’t bad. It’s a tough pill to swallow, however, it isn’t necessarily bad. What failing provides you is an opportunity to learn, cope with hardships, and bounce back stronger and more determined. Just make sure you’re not letting failures linger around too much. Fail fast and move on. So, being fearful of failure isn’t all that bad.

Turn That Fear Into a Strength

Often what we are fearful of is what we’re weak at. These are areas where we’ve never been great at and feel there’s much opportunity to grow and improve. For example, you could fear that your business may be seriously challenged by a competitor because your product lacks in some areas that they are better at. So you’re fearful that the competition is going to overtake your market share. Now you could sit there in fear of loss of business, or you could see this as an opportunity for much needed research and development of your product to really give your competitors a tough fight. Fuel your strengths from what you fear most.

In the times of exponential growth you could fear a lot of challenges and roadblocks that your business could possibly face. These fears are real and they aren’t something bad. In fact, as an exponential leader you should be fearful of one aspect the most – complacency. That alone is holding your company down. Fearing complacency will allow you to step out of your comfort zone and push the boundaries of your limitations to be even greater.