With the Halloween season upon us, everything seems to be themed accordingly: classic Halloween movies are playing on ABC, Target has more than everything you need to get in the spooky spirit, haunted hayrides/houses are frequent weekend activities, and everything is pumpkin flavored. Even leadership is following suit with the “scary” theme of Halloween.
Hold the phone! What did she just say??
Yes, folks. Leadership IS scary. It may not cause us to jump three feet in the air when something comes out of a closet (even though we all told Jenny NOT to look in the closet) or pee our pants if clowns are chasing us, but leadership is in fact scary. It forces us outside of our comfort zone, demands us to change from our norms, and asks us to guide our followers full steam ahead even if we ourselves don’t know exactly where we are leading them to. Leadership IS scary. Allow yourself to be scared by leadership because your response is crucial to developing your skills and characteristics as a leader.
When put in unknown or controversial situations, our body stimulates a “fight-or-flight” response that causes us to react to that situation in specific ways (this is why Jenny runs after she opens that closet we all told her not to open-her reaction was “flight”). As leaders, it is crucial to train ourselves to have a “fight” response when it comes to leadership-related situations.
First leadership is scary now she’s telling us to fight?
In a way, yes. I’m challenging all leaders to “fight” when we encounter situations that make us fearful, and to work through internal and external struggles when they arise. Training ourselves to “fight” in scary situations will take time and practice, requiring a great deal of patience with ourselves. The great news is, there will always be new situations and experiences that frighten us that require us to “fight” giving us many opportunities to practice! Even I, find myself in scary situations that cause me to assess whether I will fight or flight. In fact, right now, I am challenging myself to fight when all I want to do is flight. Why you may ask? Well, I have the opportunity to attend a leadership based conference with an organization I am apart of on campus at my home-away-from-home-the University of Dayton. This conference is three days-two nights in Baltimore, Maryland and will cause me to miss a full day of classes. Not only is it eight hours away with thousands of students I have never met before, but I am also going with a group of students I literally met one day ago. My teeth are chattering and my knees knocking just thinking about this conference that is WAY outside of my comfort zone. But, leadership IS scary. Which is why I am not backing down from this opportunity, but stepping outside of my comfort zone because this is where growth as a person and leader takes place.Yes, I am scared. But I will not let that fear overcome me because then I will be missing out on an incredible experience and the opportunity to grow and learn in a new environment.
As leaders, we can’t let our feeling of “flight” stop us. We must tackle that fear head on and say, “Yes, leadership is scary… BUT, here are all the reasons why it is necessary.” I challenge you to incorporate scary leadership into your life and see just how much growth you will endure!