Overcoming 10 Common Leadership Fears


Audio # 7 - The Fear of Letting People Down

Leadership Fear of Letting People Down

Is our concern for others denying your team a chance to fight alongside you?

The Fear of Letting People Down is another classic example of how fear can be a chameleon.

Just like a chameleon, this fear blends itself in a range of colors. This fear conceals itself as a concern for others.  What starts out as a healthy desire to serve people and lead your team, transforms in to the Fear of Letting People Down.

The Key Signs of the Fear of Letting People Down Are:

  • Keeping people safe is your excuse for withholding vital information.
  • Putting off an important decision to keep your team happy.

If you indulge the Fear of Letting People Down, you deny your team the chance to fight alongside you for their future.

Doing other people’s jobs for them, protecting your team from the truth, and micromanaging are traits of leadership with a faux facade. These traits cloak themselves as servant leadership. It’s not true leadership. It’s fear. These are traits of the Fear of Letting People Down.

Servant Leaders Never Let Anyone Down, Right?

Like most fears, this one starts out innocent enough. At first you feel like you’re being a servant leader. You put others first just like God instructed. You don’t want your employees to get hurt, to be over-stressed, to take on too much risk, or be burdened.

Let’s be honest. The Fear of Letting People Down is indulging in heroics. Leaders tend to carry burdens unnecessarily. Leaders have a high tolerance for pain and stress. We assume we’re the only ones who are equipped to handle the situation. We avoid explaining the truth about our successes and failures as we pursue our mission.

Fear of Letting People Down Transforms Into An Assumption Others Will Fail You

Have you ever believed you’d rather be the one who is disappointed than to disappoint someone else? At the time, this feels like a sacrificial posture. You feel incredibly noble to sacrifice yourself in this way.

What starts out as your deep concern for others can sometimes be an egotistical drip of self-importance. This simple assumption creates leadership problems later.

Your assumption morphs into a fear. You worry people will mess up without your involvement. You start installing a new, core belief: people will always disappoint you. The Fear of LETTING People Down has now transformed into the Fear of Being LET Down.

Over time you don’t believe others, especially your own employees, would know when to use the restroom if you don’t coach them! You believe everyone is dependent on you. Once this shift takes place you’ll be carrying a burden you were never intended to carry. You carry the Fear of Letting People Down. This belief system doesn’t enable Breakthrough Leadership.

What Message Are You Conveying About The Strength of Your Team?

Your Fear of Letting People down might be:

  • Creating dependency where none really needs to exist.
  • Preventing others from gaining strength or from finding an environment where they can thrive.
  • Failing to allow others to grow as teammates who are capable to fight for a clear and powerful mission.

What if Your Fear of Letting People Down is Preventing Your Team From Embracing an Important Reality?

The Fear of Letting People Down can rob your team of the chance to help you. As a leader, you don’t want others to carry the burden or weight of tough decisions. But, that’s why they decide to follow you in the first place; they wanted to support you and the mission.

You must speak honestly with others. To do that you’d have to be honest with yourself about your organization’s current situation.

When lay-offs have to happen you might try to soften the blow instead of being honest. Your team can help you uncover opportunities to solve problems. If they don’t know about the problems, they can’t help.

If you really want to be honest with yourself admit this: The Fear Of Letting People Down is really egotistical desire for your team to depend on you as the hero. Don’t be the kind of leader that would rather face financial loss than let people down.

How To Transition From a Position of Weakness To A Position Of Clarity And Strength

  • Shift your focus. If you’re making decisions based on fear and not on your core mission, you’re actually hurting people, not protecting them.
  • Choose to be honest. You can’t lead unless you consistently tell it like it is.
  • Share the truth quickly.
  • Equip the team with renewed clarity. THE ONLY WAY to keep from letting people down is to complete the mission!   When you fail to lift up the mission due to the Fear of Letting People down, you have betrayed the mission!

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


1. Ask yourself...will the completion of the stated mission for the team take care of the issue that is creating this fear?

2. Ask yourself...will the Fear of Letting People Down prevent you from equipping your entire team to strive toward fulfillment of the mission you are on together?

3. Ask yourself...Is this fear tempting you to provide an incomplete or inaccurate perspective to your team that will sabotage their success?

I’d love to hear your comments on the Fear Of Letting People Down.  

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