Autumn is here

… or: Halloween in day-to-day leadership
(Part 1)

And with falling leaves, persistent rain and colder nights dread falls upon us… When I went to my car yesterday in a good mood, it was already there! She was waiting for me, unmissable, right in the middle of the door to the underground car park! That’s my door, it wanted to tell me. I would have liked to have agreed with it and run back up the stairs immediately. My breathing became shallow and my body began to make movements the mind considers nonsense, but my mind had absented itself anyway. You guessed it. On the door sat a cobweb spider, aka a house spider, altogether about 6 cms across.

Why am I telling you about my fears?

Because I think it’s time to make fear socially acceptable. Fear is a deeply human emotion that unfortunately sometimes makes us do things that don’t make sense. I often experience this in companies. But first things first.

How does fear develop?

We perceive our environment with our senses. Receptors send impulses to the brain, where “inner” images of the perceived object are created. Depending on our experience, some objects are interpreted as danger. Fear arises through the limbic brain, which is responsible for feelings. “Special areas of the limbic system, the hippocampus and the amygdala, then cause the hypothalamus to initiate corresponding physical reactions. The hypothalamus causes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol and cortisone via nerve tracts in the adrenal medulla. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are activated.” (from: https://www.angst-panik-hilfe.de/koerperreaktionen-angst.html )

If you want to know more about physical reactions to anxiety, I recommend the book “Biologie der Angst” by Gerald Hüther (translated into French and Spanish).

What is good about being afraid?

Without fear mankind would not have developed further. Sensing fear makes us aware, increases our perception and causes the body either to face the situation or to flee at lightning speed, depending on which reaction is most likely to secure my survival. So much for the actual task of fear.

And what is not good about being afraid?

Now we no longer live in times of direct threat from sabre-toothed tigers or other hunters. Sometimes we are afraid although there is no real danger. And depending on our type, we develop different unconscious patterns of dealing with fears:

Some become aggressive towards others and / or towards themselves and others flee. These are not appropriate behaviours in the workplace. (More about coping strategies with fear: https://www.business-wissen.de/artikel/topmanager-wovor-sich-fuehrungskraefte-fuerchten/.)

Among actors the following sentence applies: I owe my audience stage fright. And when I lead a large group moderation, I also experience this excitement before the start because I know what can happen in these complex situations.

The uncertain, the unpredictable, the expectations of disaster make us afraid. We imagine something happening that we want to avoid. Fear arises in our heads, usually there is no reason for fear in reality.

And next week you can read the sequel:

How do we deal with fears? Why is fear such an important issue for managers?

I am looking forward to meeting you again….

Text: HFI
English translation: BCO

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