Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Fear and Transparency

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 5, 2010


I recently witnessed a leader experiencing a melt down in front of their team members.  They were emotional, irrational, and everything about their body language communicated desperation.  Clearly, they were afraid of something.  They were having a bad day.

We all have bad days, and we all need people in our lives that we can turn to for support when we’ve been kicked in the teeth.  As a leader, look outside of your team for support when you’re afraid.

Fear doesn’t lead well.

  • The team will amplify your fear
  • Fear darkens the spirit of the organization
  • Fear Paralyzes: Productive activity stops until the leader’s drama is resolved

Dave Ramsey has often told me,

It’s OK to be afraid… just don’t make decisions based on fear.

I would add:  Don’t vent your fear to the team without a solution…there’s little up side.


Transparency has tremendous upside.  When you talk openly about issues with your team, positive or negative, they will appreciate you’re candidness:

  • Everyone wants to be treated like an adult
  • Adults understand that no one is perfect, and they respect a leader who doesn’t act like they have it all together
  • Fear doesn’t thrive when everyone understands what’s really going on

When being transparent on negative issues, you will do well to lead your team in exercises that allow them to see the issue objectively.  Don’t the hide negative realities from your team, help them process through it.  Get their feedback.

Let your team know that while you may not have all the answers yet, you are not going to be motivated by fear.

Gut Check

  • Do you have a place to unpack fearful situations outside of your subordinate team?
  • What are practical ways you express transparency without becoming demoralizing?
  • Do you have a tendency to keep people in the dark on information that might help them?

4 Responses

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  1. Ron said, on April 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Learning to be a better leader. Work, and most of all, at HOME.

  2. John Felkins said, on April 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    In Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks character tells his platoon that he doesn’t “gripe down” he only “gripes up.” I think “gripe” is my word, not his. The point is, find a peer or mentor to work through your issues. Great post Daniel.

    • elephanthunters said, on April 8, 2010 at 9:43 am

      Hey John,

      I know you consult with businesses. (or is it coach?) How do you feel like a consultant does with the job of peer or mentor?

      This isn’t a just an underhanded pitch. I really want to know what it is that a consultant may be limited to in this regard that only an unpaid mentor provide?

  3. Zac McMinn said, on April 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Great words Daniel! It is funny what God has you stubble upon sometimes but I stubbled into your blog from facebook and have been checking it out ever since. Good stuff! I manage and I needed some of the stuff you said in this blog. It majorly helped me for my staff meeting. I really got a lot out of the line…..Let your team know that while you may not have all the answers yet, you are not going to be motivated by fear.

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