Lions, Mice and Leaders

roaring lionWhat lions are roaring in your world? What mice are scampering across your floors?

A friend visited Africa and said that a lion’s roar is frightening, freezing one in place or causing a surge of adrenaline to run.

Are you a fearful leader? You should be.

Fear is a healthy, protective emotion. Fear keeps business safe. Fear prevents a wise leader from saying, “That’s a kitten outside our door; not a 500 pound man-eating big cat.” Fear forces leaders to prepare, to get equipped with a plan, or in some cases, run.

Roaring lions surround every organization in the food industry: Consolidation, competition, new customer behaviors and expectations, low growth, globalization, talent management, speed of technology, strong and weak dollar…all occurring with increased velocity. Grasping their implications and exercising sound judgment–both fast and good–is critical to acting wisely and in time to safeguard the business.

miceAnxiety, on the other hand, is a very different emotion often confused with fear. Anxiety is like the mouse scampering across your floor…personal dread overshadows danger. Anxiety clings to all forms of self-preservation amid losses or bad outcomes.

Anxiety, not fear, can take over in situations when our skills, talent, problem-solving ability, knowledge, ideas, judgment, even lovability may be tested and exposed.

Scampering mice are found in every organization too: Delayed decision-making, sidestepping hard conversations, failing to speak out or step up, lack of accountability, personal posturing, inflated egos, refusing to forgive, refusing to be wrong, failure to self-correct, unwilling to accept feedback.

In summary, Leadership Anxiety seeks to protect oneself. Leadership Fear seeks to protect the business.

All of us struggle with both.

So back to those lions and mice. Blogs have much to say about Courage. That’s good. But it’s up to each one of us to reflect on where and how courage can be applied–either in response to the roar of big cats or scampering little rodents in this habitat called the Business World.

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