Overcoming 10 Common Leadership Fears


Audio # 3 - The Fear of Conflict

The Fear of Conflict can be found even in leaders who defeat all conflict

Dealing with the Fear of Conflict often requires us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, so to speak. There are many varieties that occur within this single fear. The Fear of Conflict may adapt and morph in your own environment.

What If I Told You The Fear of Conflict Has Nothing To Do With Being Afraid To Have Conflict?

The dominant leader who fearlessly dives headfirst into conflict doesn’t have the Fear of Conflict, right? WRONG!

Our definition of conflict can be a few degrees off. Is our definition of conflict about lack of conformity on our team, or healthy debate from wise counsel?

Without healthy debate, diversity of experience, and unbridled insight from our best people the best ideas won't thrive and float to the top.

Conflict Isn’t Always What You’ve Come To Visualize

Conflict can hide within you, and within the subconscious of your team members.  If you are going to lead successfully, the importance of recognizing hidden conflict is much more powerful than dealing with obvious and active conflict.

Here are some visible signs the Fear of Conflict is affecting your business:

  • Team members have been conditioned to be subdued rather than addressing your leadership with difficult topics.
  • Team members have become dormant.
  • Team members feel there are no opportunities to learn, grow or make contributions.
  • Team members will tell you only what you want to hear.
  • You say to yourself, “who knows more about my business than me!?
  • You have paid someone for their expertise and ultimately didn't listened to a single thing they told you.
  • You secretly seek a team of people who will support your existing hypothesis.

Fear brings bias. Bias blocks the best ideas. Fear of Conflict keeps our best people away.

As leaders, we believe the very definition of leadership is having influence over others. Having influence means we will gain consensus. We will make certain everyone AGREEs with us. By this logic, if anyone doesn't agree with us, we don’t have influence. And, by definition we’re not good leaders. See how that works?

Doesn't it look crazy when you read this circular logic? But that’s how fear is.

Take time to ask for your team’s ideas. Don’t focus on prevailing and winning.

View the complete Audio Library for the more in our series, 10 Common Leadership Fears


1. Change your mindset about conflict. You need conflict. You need a BREAKTHROUGH from fear to embracing conflict.

2. Identify whether the fear of conflict comes from personal sensitivities, or from misguided desires to have a controlling influence over others.

3. Foster respect for your leadership with healthy, open and sincere conflict. Your team needs it. Your business will be better for it.

4. Open your leadership to multiple viewpoints and debate. This builds trust. Conflict that lies unresolved builds distrust.

5. Create confidence in your leadership by addressing any conflict that is buried deep in the minds of your team. Lack of conflict will pool into resentment of your leadership.

6. Become a Breakthrough Leader by addressing tough topics you may not want to want hear about. Believe that opening yourself to conflict creates far more options than it destroys.

7. Address your team today. Conflict that feels disrespected or brushed aside does not resolve itself. It destroys the bonds of teamwork and it ultimately undermines the leader.

I’d love to hear your comments on the Fear of Conflict

3 responses to “Fear of Conflict – Leadership Fear #3”

  1. Greg Yates says:

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about this one! I completely missed it with this until I began to understand how powerful it was to seek out opposing opinions. Talk to me! G

  2. Terrence Yates says:

    Another great audio here from BTL! Define the “enemy”. It usually isn’t as obvious as you think. Much of conflict in teams happens when those members see the objection (and the objector) as the enemy. That’s typically not the case. Defining your “enemy” will also cause you to realize and define your allies! Guess what, they are all around you!

    • Great point, Terry. As humans, our “fight or flight” mechanisms are wired to identify enemies. Even when we’re not trying, our brains are trying to spot the enemy. Until we define our enemy, we can’t be certain our teams are fighting along side us. They may be unintentionally fighting against us.

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