What’s Messing With Morale?


Inside, we all have a fear monster. It might be hibernating, but every now and then it rouses – even for leaders! When your fear monster is awake and active, you behave in ways that mess with morale. You may not even know the name of your fear monster, but I can guarantee it’s working against you both personally and professionally.

What’s your fear monster? You might word it slightly differently, but no doubt you can spot your fear among these:

Identifying your fear monster is the first step towards recognizing when and how it is showing up for you as you lead and do life. I assure you, if ignored your fear monster will hurt morale and undermine your efforts as a leader. I’m confident you don’t want that!

Check out these six fear-driven behaviors that might be messing with the morale of your team:

1. Frantically Busy

Being frantically busy affects everything you do! It makes it tough to stay on top of your work load and it keeps you from serving the people you lead. There is no question the role of a leader is demanding, but if your hectic schedule is driven by fear, it will not yield the results you are after.  For example, you might take on too much to prove that…

  • You are enough…except that by over committing yourself you aren’t actually able to come through with all you’ve taken on so you end up feeling less than.
  • You are not a loser…but by rushing around and trying to do it all, you make tasks more important than people and those under your influence feel let down and you feel like a loser.
  • You matter…yet in your quest for significance you invest your energy in more activities than you can realistically do well, which doesn’t give you the confirmation of your worth that you’re after.
  • You are strong…and oh so capable – hear me roar! Taking on too much eventually leads to things falling through the cracks and compromising the strong image you were shooting for.
  • You are not selfish…anything but selfish, right? Look at everything you are doing for everyone. However, in the flurry of activity, you appear self-serving rather than a servant leader.

Be honest – what’s your motivation for the never ending activity? How does being busy intersect with your fear monster for you? Just because everyone is crazy busy these days doesn’t mean it a great choice unless you want to end up being stressed and exhausted!

It’s hard to lead others when you aren’t able to lead yourself. Leading yourself well means staying on top of your work load, engaging in self- care, and making time for others.

2. Holding Your People Back

It’s no secret that people thrive when they are able to do work that taps into their passions and enables them to use their gifts, talents, and strengths. It takes time and effort to recognize and find creative ways for your people to operate in their sweet spot.

And your people will flourish in an environment where they can experiment and take risks without the fear of punishment, allowing them to be creative and innovative in their work.

And when your fear is at work, it will inadvertently hold people back and affect your bottom line. Can you relate to these examples?

  • You shine…unless your people outshine you. Then you feel invisible.
  • You are competent…but if someone on your team does something better than you do, you feel incompetent.
  • You are authentic…the real deal! But as the leader you should know everything. You should be better, more experienced – all of which is impossible and you feel like a fake or ordinary.

3. Perfecting the Art of Micro-managing

Ever worked for someone who perpetually glanced over your shoulder and meddled in whatever you were tasked to do? It is the opposite of motivating! The goal is to empower your people – to help them develop their skills and set them free so that you can move on to bigger and more impactful activities. Yet if your fear monster is stirring, you will second guess everything your people do because it rouses your fear monster in ways like these:

  • If you empower your people, they won’t need you and you feel rejected
  • If you stop micro-managing, you might feel stupid – you know what your people don’t know, but there are new things to learn as the leader that don’t come as easily
  • If you let your people figure things out on their own and they may fail making you look like a loser.

4. Shifting the Responsibility

As the leader, the success of your team hinges on you. That’s a big responsibility. Your fear monster will tempt you to point the finger elsewhere when problems pop up, and when you do, it is sure to take a toll on the morale of your team. Compare that to the leader who takes responsibility and does what needs to be done to turn things around. It can be hard to take responsibility if your fear monster is telling you that you are incompetent, not enough, or that you don’t matter!

5. Ignoring Ideas & Suggestions

It’s easy to feel like as the leader you have to have all the answers and have great ideas. That’s just not true; but when your fear monster at work, it can make it hard to hear the creative solutions and suggestions your people bring to you. Even when their ideas have flaws, taking the time to explore them and understand their reasoning better just might lead to a brilliant solution. After all, your people are closer to the work in many ways and have experiences that you might not have.

Who doesn’t want to have their ideas taken seriously? And when ideas are ignored, especially repeatedly, it’s discouraging!

If your fear monster is in control, you will feel incompetent or stupid when your people bring ideas your way rather than seeing them as inspiration for new and improved ways of doing things.

6. Being Unapproachable

Relationship is a huge when it comes to leadership and morale! In fact, morale will probably only be as good as the relationships you have with your people. When your people feel like you are unapproachable, it’s like letting the air out of the morale balloon!

While being an extrovert or an introvert can be a factor in how approachable you are, so is fear! Check it out these reasons fear might cause you to keep your distance:

  • So your people don’t find out what you don’t know
  • To avoid being rejected
  • To appear like you have important work to do

Boosting morale – that never hurts! When you face your fears, it can have an amazing effect, and when morale is up so is productivity, energy, and the chances of you successfully meeting the goals of your business or organization! Time to subdue that fear monster!

And don’t forget, the other big morale killer – communication!

What’s your fear monster and how is it deflating morale?

© Can Stock Photo / bertoszig

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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