How to Overcome Three Fears of Being a Manager

If you are like many professionals, you have had your sights set on becoming a leader in the workplace for quite some time. You have built the right relationships, developed your technical skill set, and set goals for yourself to prepare for the next level. You might have even been lucky enough to get offered a promotion into leadership and wanted to jump at the opportunity. But in the back of your mind, there may be few lingering thoughts that make you hesitant to accept that lucrative offer.

In many cases, the simple fact is that we all have a little fear of the unknown, or Xenophobia. Modern psychology research suggests that we are generally able to anticipate consequences, but in our own minds we feel a deep sense of ambiguity when it comes to taking on a new role in the workplace. In particular, many professionals have a long list of concerns to accompany their ambitions to make a move into management. The truth is that we all have our fears, but if we can overcome them, we can create our own destiny and reach our full potential. If you have been thinking about taking the leap into leadership, here are three fears that are common when taking the promotion along with some inspiration on how to overcome them.

Fear of Failure 

We all want to be successful, yet at one point or another, we have all anticipated the possibility of failure. When this thought creeps into your head, you have two choices: to give up or to face it head on. When I think about the possibility of failure, I remind myself that the most successful people have failed at some point in their lives. Michael Jordan is considered one of the best basketball players of all time, but many forget that he was cut from his high school basketball team. Warren Buffet is one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, but he was rejected from Harvard University. Richard Branson, owner of the highly successful Virgin organization, is a high school dropout. Failure is a part of life and will happen regardless of your ambitions. When you become a manager, you will fail many times. But every time you admit your mistakes, your team will forgive you and respect you even more.

Fear of Not Being Prepared

If you think back to most major events in your life such as your first day in college and your first day in your real job, were you really prepared? The answer is probably no. There are many things in life where we can’t predict the outcome but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should avoid them. During one of my first experiences in managing a team, there were many instances during a meeting where I would get questions and comments that I wasn’t prepared to respond to. But instead of giving up, I sought the advice of a mentor and worked to improve my ability to handle conflict in situations in which I wasn’t prepared. You will never fully be prepared for life’s challenges, but you can always be prepared to improve.

Fear of Not Knowing It All 

In the various leadership positions I have held, I have been in coaching situations where I tried my very best to appear confident, knowledgeable, and credible. But in more instances than I can count, I have been asked a question or been challenged on something and have been fearful to respond with, “I’m sorry but I really don’t know”. It is human nature to be conscious of what others think about us, especially when it comes to leadership. We don’t want to appear to others as though we don’t have the right words to say or the right guidance to give, as we are fearful it could impact our credibility in the workplace. But the reality is that when you are humble enough to say you don’t know, but promise to find the answer, you will rarely find that others lose respect for you. When you make the move to management, accept that you won’t know it all and communicate that to your team.

Although fear can be widely interpreted as a negative feeling, it prompts us to reach for more courage than we knew existed within us. If you are thinking about taking the leap to management, and you know it is right for you but possess some of the fears mentioned above, know that you aren’t alone and that many have conquered their fears and have gone on to achieve great things.



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