Tag Archives: Fear

Organizations, fear and leadership

My wife, who’s working on her MBA, is currently wading through a class that focuses on leadership. The other night she observed that “there sure are a lot of people out there developing theories on leadership, aren’t there?”

Well, yes, and for good reason. Most of those people are working to provide hooks for consulting practices, which can be pretty marketable. Why? Every company needs strong leaders. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that very few companies, if any, have as much in the way of leadership skills as they would like. Even if they have strong leadership at the top, you need leadership at all levels of the organization in order to be truly effective, and every business I’ve ever encountered had at least a little room for improvement. Continue reading Organizations, fear and leadership

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Fear is the organization killer

Once upon a time the business world was dominated by hierarchical organizations that derived both their structures and mechanistic management philosophies from military thinking that traces its lineage through Frederic the Great all the way back, literally, to the Roman legions. And by “once upon a time,” of course, I mean “at this very minute.”

The truth is that way too many American companies today act as though their employees are some combination of robot and peasant foot soldier. (Hopefully we’re not talking about the company you work for, but I imagine we’ve all been there at some point – I know I have and so have most of the people I know.) Continue reading Fear is the organization killer

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can’t cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can’t cure us

Perpetual fear: a brief moment with Fatherland Security

Not everything in life is a huge deal, but sometimes the small things provide a lot of insight into the big things.

I’m sitting in the Cleveland airport right now, waiting for my flight back to Denver to board. A few minutes ago I saw one of those things that make you go “hmmm.”

Imagine that you’re in the security line, and you realize – ohmygod, I have 3.2 ounces of shampoo in my shaving kit instead of the legally allowable three ounces. You’re way to far through the line to make a break for it, but you’d hate to go to Gitmo just because you wanted fuller, shinier hair. As panic begins to set in you notice something. Beside the line is a trash can with a small hole in the top and a makeshift sign reading:

AMNESTY BIN

Continue reading Perpetual fear: a brief moment with Fatherland Security

Why are we so afraid?

We were afraid long before 9/11.

As so many have observed, fear causes us to trade freedom for security, real or perceived. Fear makes us sheep, a lesson that’s not lost on those who seek to acquire, retain and extend power. Fear causes us to follow not those who’d deliver us from fear or its causes, but rather those who profit from it.

But why are we so afraid?

This is a question I’ve been thinking and studying on for some time – longer even than I realized. As it turns out I did a good bit of research in the ’90s that bears directly on the issue, and while I don’t claim to have a definite answer nailed down, I do believe I have a theory, and maybe it’s one we can leverage as we try to infuse the Republic with a bit more reason. It’s longish, but bear with me – hopefully the payoff will reward your patience. Continue reading Why are we so afraid?