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A-HA! The fear of leadership: Why I wasn’t ready to “take on me” as a leader

 

Stefano Di Lollo

Stefano Di Lollo, VP Innovation & Technology, Papillon MDC

Creativity may have always come easily to me, but I’ve also always known that it couldn’t be left to chance. It’s a skill that must continually be developed and refined despite the effort, pain, and struggle that comes along with exploring the edges of one’s creativity.  Fortunately, my multifaceted career provided me with a thick coat laced with grit to help weather the uncertainty, ambiguity, and fear when chasing meaningful goals. Leadership, on the other hand, did not come so easily to me, and I had to learn (the hard way) that it couldn’t be left to chance either. Impromptu corporate decisions are often seniority-based and sometimes merit-based, but in either case, leaders aren’t necessarily selected because of apparent indicators of leadership potential. To make matters worse, promoted employees are often left without the appropriate guidance or training during the role transition.

Several years ago, I found myself looking in a mirror and asking “what now” when I was unexpectedly promoted from a frontline position as an industrial designer to a new leadership role. Certainly I felt a sense of accomplishment, but there was one problem. When I looked in the mirror, the reflection of someone paralyzed with fear stared back at me rather than the fearless leader I’d envisioned should be standing there. I wasn’t ready to “take on me” as a leader. Instead of being enthused by my new opportunity to lead a team of talented creatives, I was paralyzed by the fear of leadership itself.

 

“When I looked in the mirror, the reflection of someone paralyzed with fear stared back at me rather than the fearless leader I’d envisioned should be standing there.”

These are the 5 variants of fear that I encountered as creative leader:

  1. The Fear of Rejection
  2. The Fear of Taking Charge
  3. The Fear of Anonymity
  4. The Fear of Accountability
  5. The Fear of Losing Control

Up Next…

We will explore the variants of fear in depth in the next few days. Stay tuned!

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