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Fear and Resistance Are Plaguing Your Organizational Culture

There are certain periods in all of our lives where we're consumed with frustration, fear, despair, anxiety, craving, longing, and resisting. For me, one of the best and worst times in my life was when I moved to California. I was so excited and so filled with the  possibility of being able to start a software company. All the people I knew from Illinois were supporting me and my journey. They even threw a going away party. Everybody was rooting for my success.


During the 2,500 mile journey, all of the moments in my life where I had failed, lost something, was a jerk to someone, or didn't behave in a way that I'm proud of started swarming through my brain. I was overwhelmed with what I had just committed to doing. And I didn't know that I was in overwhelm, fear, and anxiety until much later, after I dealt with the consequences created by this state.


In the dynamic landscape of today's business world, change and uncertainty are inevitable. However, fear is one of the biggest obstacles to creating positive change and moving your organization forward at its highest level of capability.


With fear comes resistance and when both of them are at play, your organization loses the high performance leadership and teams that enable you to overcome new challenges and market shifts. To enable your organization to be agile enough to adapt to and adopt change, and cultivate an emergent culture, it’s essential to understand the necessary steps to overcome and move beyond the inevitable constraints that resistance and fear cause.


What’s Causing Fear?


A big problem with having unresolved fear present in your organization is that it’s hard to know where it’s coming from. In fact, most of the time, you won’t even realize you or the people around you are in a state of fear. You can’t fix a problem you don’t even know about. An emergent organizational culture can only exist when the people within navigate your fears.


Some common fears can include a fear of failure, fear of not being able to manage change, fear of exposing one’s vulnerabilities, and fear of the unknown. These just scratch the surface. Every person and every organization is unique and has different fears that may cause challenges in the workplace.


To overcome fear, you first have to understand what is bringing that fear to the surface. Be conscious of your own fears and acknowledge them. Be curious and ask others in the organization what concerns them about impending challenges or organizational changes and what makes them uneasy about moving forward. Ask why people are afraid. Getting past fear is much easier when you know what you’re up against.

Open Your Mind


Resistance to change is how your organization falls behind. When people fear the uncertainties associated with organizational change, they tend to resist even beneficial transformations, keeping the organization stuck in a frustrated state.


One of the most common causes of resistance is close mindedness, which is often born out of fear. Once you understand what is causing that fear, it’s important to open your mind to the new possibilities and ideas that you may have been resistant to.


Just because you’ve gotten by doing things a particular way doesn’t mean there isn’t a better alternative. Being open to diverse perspectives and ideas leads to innovation and market leadership. It’s much easier to gain buy-in and engagement from people when you get curious and include their opinions and perspectives.


Hiring people from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise can support this. Anyone you hire and engage with about moving the organization forward needs to be committed to your vision or the vision of the company. People who don’t care often resist change because they don’t see how it benefits their personal agenda. High performing teams are filled with people who care and want to achieve success, both for the organization and themselves.


Manage Your Ego


Allowing your ego to take charge of your behaviors only leads to a struggle to innovate and grow as an organization. While this is key for high-performance leadership, it goes for everyone else in your organization as well. It’s important that you take a good look in the mirror and see where you resist doing things differently or moving into unknown territory.


If you always have to be right, struggle with feedback, blame others for your failures, and/or don’t hire people smarter than you, these may be signs that your ego has too much control over you and is inhibiting your ability to be a high performance leader that cultivates organizational change and keeps your company in position to make a positive impact. You may not even realize it. A few ways to remedy this personal and professional challenge include:


●       Encouraging feedback from within the organization - It allows for you to better understand what’s working within your company and what can still be improved upon.

●       Practicing Self Awareness – If you don’t realize your ego is controlling your actions, it’s crucial to look inward to understand why it’s causing you to act in ways that thwart your personal effectiveness so that you can be better at self-managing.


●      Being grounded in who you are – Living true to yourself and understanding your values and goals is key. The ego often overreacts to failure and self-limiting thoughts. Grounding yourself in authenticity fosters consistency and clarity of direction. When your actions align with your true self, you project clarity and certainty because you are being genuine and transparent.

●      Getting out of Frustration and into Courage - It takes courage to be wrong and admit to it. Cultivating your ability to admit missteps and embrace vulnerability is key to effectively managing how much your ego controls your behavior. This transparency also models vulnerability and authenticity for others to follow.

Have A Direction


Being stuck in place can often indicate a lack of specific direction. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you’re there. Your organization, the people within it, and you yourself all need direction. People need to see the vision, and they need to understand why they must feel compelled to act on that vision.


Ask questions of yourself and those around you. What is your purpose? What is the vision of your organization? Why is that important? How will it benefit the organization, the people in it and you? What is the contribution you most want to give? When do you know you’ve given it?


Establishing a purpose and defining the contribution your organization aims to make are fundamental aspects of overcoming fear and resistance. Clearly articulated goals and a shared vision provide the necessary guidance for navigating through challenges and driving positive change. When people see and feel the vision, they understand why and how they can contribute. This gives them the positive energy to create and move forward, rather than react and stay complacent


If you don’t have a direction, it’s easy to just stick with whatever you and your organization are doing right now and not change anything. While this approach may keep you afloat for a little while, it won’t enable long term growth and success for you or your company.


Wake Up and Meet Your Higher Self


When you embody the contribution you aspire to be and make and adjust your behaviors to be congruent with that contribution, you stand a little stronger, your stride is more confident and your insights more profound. When you take time to establish measures for success and effectiveness, actively seek feedback from others, have a clearly defined direction and focus, and feel strong and secure about yourself and your abilities, that's the point at which fear and resistance no longer have a hold on you. That’s when you and your organization are psychologically and ontologically free to create the positive change you aspire to see in the world.



To your growth,


P.S. Want to learn about more about your organizational culture and what may be constraining your ability to grow and achieve market leadership?  Check out our Free Organizational Culture Assessment. It provides insight into different areas of your organization and what’s currently working and where you may need to improve.


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