The Fear Factor

“Only the paranoid survive.” – attributed to Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel

Happy New Year!  Here comes 2021, and we are rolling into it with all kinds of weird aspects of life continuing from the nightmarish year we experienced in 2020.  In addition to an insidious pandemic, there is stress everywhere you look.  Unemployment applications are increasing, and millions of Americans are without adequate housing, food, or medical care. Some aspects of our living and working environment have likely changed for good. Congress and much of the country is deeply divided.  Sound reasons to be fearful, it seems, as we bring in the new year…

Start moving past the stress and worry of 'the fear factor' and towards success by having clear goals in mind.Somehow, though, we did get through the past twelve months when things could have been much, much worse.  Should we really have a high level of anxiety about the next twelve?

Going back to Andy Grove, the former Chairman and CEO of Intel, he also said, Give me a turbulent world as opposed to a quiet world and I’ll take the turbulent one.”  If you follow his thinking, then, it tells me leaders cannot afford to be flippant or dismissive of the challenges ahead this year – but we shouldn’t be afraid to confront them, either. Take ‘the fear factor’ into account, but be prepared to move forward.

Leadership at its core is the art of getting others to accomplish difficult tasks under trying circumstances.  I think that’s exactly where we are today – difficult tasks, trying circumstances.

My recommendation: start this year by setting (or resetting) your Azimuth – the cardinal direction of your team.  Ask these questions of yourself and those you serve to set that Azimuth:

  1. Who are we? What do we do?  Why do we do it? (our Mission)
  2. What is our end state? What are the Key Tasks must we accomplish to get there and the purpose for them? (our Intent)
  3. What are our beliefs? (our Values)
  4. What behaviors we will demonstrate to bring those beliefs to life? (our Culture)

(For those on your team who may get a bit more out of visuals than text, I have a video blog discussing these same questions.)

The answers you come up with should guide everything which follows, creating alignment, clarity, and cohesion.  Everyone will be rowing in the same direction.

This is how you lead through the fear and anxiety of a changed world.  Start setting your Azimuth today. You’ll have a clear goalpost to look towards, despite ‘the fear factor’ of our current uncertainties. Good luck – and enjoy the journey!

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