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When Fear Holds Leaders Back

Yesterday’s article with its 4 simple points was seen as a gross oversimplification by some people. I would wager those people need the ambiguity that comes from the pump and circumstance of strict frameworks with big consultancy deck flavours of wooden language and in-actionable academic points.

“You only need 4 things to be winning like the Valley and start sorting your HumanDebt:
Human Work by the teams and the individual focused on continuous improvement, EQ and Psychological Safety that is supported by closed feedback loops, coaching and teamwork and a data-driven culture;
To make the findings of Google’s Aristotle project your cultural North Star and obsess with enabling, encouraging and rewarding doing any work that leads to these desirable team behaviours;
To eradicate fear, waterfall ways and command and control (but the beauty of this imperative is that it is implicit and we could well not “attack it” heads on or not call them out and they would still be sine qua non conditions to getting any of the other points in order;
Genuine WFAA - Work From Anywhere Any time” - the golden key to navigating the entire new paradigm successfully”

In this video, I talk about why it must be simple, clear and actionable again. And how simply resting on “We’re doing a lot of much more advanced things, paying for courses on the latest, we’re giving people access to knowledge and rethinking learning and we’re ultimately super busy creating wellness rooms so we don’t need this mumbo-jumbo about “Get your house right in terms of people, focus on getting them happier and used to the Human Work while bettering their team dynamics, implementing all that Aristotle stands for and most importantly rejig everything around WFAA” is disingenuous at best.

The vast majority of leaders and HR people I ever met know for a fact it’s not “mumbo-jumbo” but the honest truth. They know there’s no other way than distributing the human work but they don’t call it that and don’t ask for it, part of their employees’ job to-do’s.

They‘re afraid people would find it ridiculous and wouldn’t do it. Not the learning on EQ, not the time invested in understanding their emotions and those of their co-workers not even -at first- the team actions that so clearly better their dynamics and make the work so much more enjoyable. They won’t indeed because they’re tired, unloved and mentally and emotionally unwell and exhausted. And because even if they were well, these topics have never been seen as anything other than “fluffy” and people are overworked and ready to riot against any more being thrown their way.

But that’s not all that these leaders are fearing.

They’re afraid for their jobs if they say anything.

They’re afraid for their standing and social capital if they point out that an empty “attract the best talent” policy or mission statement supported by some half-baked program of measuring NPS and putting our shiny leaflets is absolutely useless when the organisation hasn’t made any steps towards genuine WFAA and every good candidate ghosts them once they realise that.

They’re afraid that the veneer of “We’re fine here, we’re doing well, we’re way above the industry average on engagement, and while we have never measured all our employees agree we have high psychological safety in teams, nothing to worry about” is starting to wear off and more decisive and transformational action is needed but they do not know where to start really.

Nor do they feel empowered to waltz into the next management meeting going “Right - let’s evaluate all we think about people and the new paradigm of work, scrap all that is inertia-driven and essentially drivel and focus on only these 4 points this woman is talking about as they’re common sense and I am burning to see change and a better life for our guys and I’ll have to concede that having a wellness room is just to stop people from hogging the toilets doom scrolling or crying”

And that’s sad. It’s a tragedy of its own how disengaged, beaten down, demoralised, dispassionate and above all fearful leaders are. These are people that were of the most motivated, caring and enthusiastic kind. People who lived and breathed the values of what their work stands for, employees more invested and hard-working than the owners or shareholders of the company, veritable powerhouses of good intentions and enthusiastic effort. They're not that anymore.

They too need support from the organisation and they could SO benefit from doing regular Human Work and focusing on getting leadership teams that are genuinely functional as a unit, not as a reporting parade hall and then do all that once they have ushered the most significant change of all: WFAA.

The beauty of this new episode in all our lives is that these changes are going nowhere. The conversation on mental health is reaching standards organisations, the WHO is driving a blessed campaign to get it as a priority on every public policymaker's agenda and so on.

There will be no way around shaking all preposterous work and doing only the right and necessary things, all anyone can do is choose to come on board now or when it may be too late.

It should be simple. It *can* be. I hope it becomes it, that we fear less and do more.


At PeopleNotTech we make software that measures and improves the well-being and Psychological Safety of teams, come see a DEMO.

“Nothing other than sustained, habitual, EQed people work at the team level aka “the human work” done BY THE TEAM will improve any organisation’s level of Psychological Safety and therefore drop their levels of HumanDebt™.”

To order the "People Before Tech: The Importance of Psychological Safety and Teamwork in the Digital Age" book go to this Amazon link


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