December 18, 2011

Fear’s Silence

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- December 18, 2011

“Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.” 2 Samuel 3:11

Most people do not speak in the face of fear. This is unfortunate for the leader who strikes fear into the heart of those around him. Fear is a cowardly caricature for motivating others. It may work for a short time, but it will come back to roost as a disloyal and demoralized team. Politics and backstabbing run rampant in fear-filled cultures. Wise leaders do not want followers silenced by fear. Rather, they need those who will speak their minds.

Silent people provide no value to the enterprise. They serve only as humanoids in servitude to the system. This silent treatment is detrimental to the organization.

A healthy team is one that is not only allowed, but encouraged, to challenge the system. A process that remains unchallenged will petrify into an ineffective routine of activity. This is one of the fruits of fear. If people are forced to embrace the status quo, then they feel backed into the corner of a fearful state, void of options. This is a poor position for productivity. Fearful followers become frozen into incompetence. They are afraid to change for fear of management’s retaliation.

This leadership by intimidation is lethal. Ironically, it eventually makes for lazy and lethargic team members. Fearful followers eventually lose steam and do just enough to get by. Fear-based leadership dislodges loyalty and replaces it with legalism. Who desires to follow someone because they have to? People experience a more noble motivation to follow when they have the freedom to express their concerns and thus become a part of the solution. Wise is the leader who replaces his or her fear-based tactics with a conciliatory spirit, wrapped around collaboration.

Moreover, fear-based leaders are afraid themselves. They are afraid that their weaknesses will be found out. Paradoxically, they try to hide what everyone already knows. What a waste of time! Your weaknesses are already as clear as the color of your eyes to everyone. Thus, wise leaders will confess their weaknesses and learn to laugh at themselves. By stating the obvious, you are freed from the clutches of using fear to intimidate. Your best people will honor you and embrace you for this. Then the strengths of others become your greatest ally, not your enemy.

There is no need at all to fear those who are better than you at certain tasks. This is the very reason you need them and they need you. Therefore, shift your style of leading from fearful intimidation to open dialogue. Take the time to listen and understand those around you. Start with your family by apologizing for your closed style of communication. Ask them to pray for you to lead by humility and honesty.

Be open with those closest to you about your own fears and inadequacies. As you begin to share your fears, others will be given permission to do the same. Then something beautiful takes place. The walls of intimidation come tumbling down. People feel the freedom to fail and to be themselves. The home and work environments become places of encouragement and excellence. People’s self-awareness become alive and well. Processes and people are constantly improving because there is total freedom to think of ways to do things better. Each of us is a candidate for being a genius in our own area of expertise. A fearless culture incubates genius. By faith, extract fear from your home and work environments and replace it with freedom. This freedom of expression will silence intimidation!

Taken from Dose 79 in the 90-day devotional book, “Infusion” …

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