ManagementThe top 10 managerial fears

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Marion Klimmer is a mental trainer. She advises companies such as Beiersdorf, Ernst & Young, HSH Nordbank and the Ergo Insurance Group. She also investigates the reasons for fear of flying and coaches golf professionals. More information at klimmer-coaching.deMarion Klimmer is a mental trainer. She advises companies such as Beiersdorf, Ernst & Young, HSH Nordbank and the Ergo Insurance Group. She also investigates the reasons for fear of flying and coaches golf professionals. More information at

Fears are fundamentally normal and essential for survival: They protect against dangers, arrogance, excessive demands and overconfidence (such as the fear of jumping from too great a height or the fear of skiing down a much too steep, icy, narrow ski slope). Fear of pain or illness can lead to regular visits to the doctor or to optimizing your personal lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation).

The fear of a professional challenge can lead to more thorough reflection and the possible rejection of an offer. Fears only become a problem when they make the personal, subjective perception or interpretation of situations uncomfortable, for example when “normal” fears become excessive in the direction of phobias. Fear of flying is such an example. Such phobias limit the personal freedom of a manager and can lead to a career break, since professional travel is not possible or only very difficult by car or train. In addition, there is the endangerment of family peace, since the spouses or children usually have more fun in flight destinations than traveling by car.

Many managers also act contrary to their personal life motives or values. The American motivation researcher Steven Reiss found out through his worldwide surveys and scientific studies that all personal values ​​and also specific behaviors, strengths and weaknesses can be traced back to the different characteristics of our 16 basic motives. We humans are only often unconscious of them – unless we have them determined, for example, by a coach or an online-supported test procedure.

Such as the need or motive for “power”: How much influence do I want to exert on others and also on their decisions and actions? The motif “status” provides information about the need to stand out from others or to be considered “equal” to others. How many privileges as a manager are important and pleasant to me – or rather even unpleasant? But managers also feel very differently about personal satisfaction through competitive situations or even the revenge for perceived insults or defeats.

No expression is “right” or “wrong” or even “good” or “bad” – the art of a happy, healthy, successful life is to adapt one’s life and work to one’s personal motivational profile. Otherwise we too often experience inner conflicts because we have to work, decide, act against our needs and “bend” ourselves for the expectations of others. This state either leads to explosion – to conflict with others. Or we “implode” – that is, the resulting stress is directed inwards in the form of personal stress, phobias, depression, illnesses, stress or oral substitute gratifications (smoking, alcohol, drugs, too much / wrong food).

Here are the top 10 self-sabotages and manager fears:

1. Overconfidence or arrogance

Sooner or later, many managers are shipwrecked if they overestimate their abilities and allow themselves to be promoted so high in accordance with the good old “Peter Principle” that they fail because of their inability. The overconfidence is mostly nourished by excessive ambition paired with vanity: the more status, the more employees, the higher the sales and budget responsibility, the better. Overconfidence usually also leads to no longer asking others for advice or possibly even listening to contrary advice from others. These lonely decisions often leave scorched earth and demotivation among colleagues and employees and quickly appear arrogant.

2. The fear of inadequacy:

This claim is expanding to more and more areas of life. In the past, a manager mostly only wanted to be professionally successful. He and the social environment (including his wife) accepted his limited availability for family matters. Nowadays managers have to and want to be “perfect” – not only as managers, but also as fathers, athletes, and leisure managers. This can hardly be achieved, so that your own or someone else’s accusations about inadequacies spill out further stress hormones.

3. Fear of failure or embarrassment

In the pursuit of recognition, status or personal validity, managers feel permanently exposed – observed in the performance of their work by employees, sometimes even rated in writing by them or pulled “through the cocoa” by the press or social media. In the worst case, even held legally accountable.

4. Willing to “please” others and avoid conflicts

Anyone who always takes the path of least resistance and adheres to all the informal “rules” in order to please others – accumulates an extremely high amount of overtime and thus stress. These managers don’t “dare” to simply give up overtime in the sunshine at 3 p.m. to go out for an ice cream with friends or children or to immerse themselves in a good book by a lake. Or simply hold the meeting with the team not in the meeting room but outdoors. What would others say?

5. Overwork and thinness

Stress caused by overwork, sleep disorders, illnesses, grief and fears leads to a high “arousal” – excessive nervous tension that makes you feel nervous or very sensitive. Statements or behaviors of others are then easily overrated or simply misinterpreted. This creates conflicts.

6. Passenger Syndrome

The unwillingness or even the phobia to confide in someone else (such as a car driver or airplane pilot) and, in extreme cases, to be at the mercy of things, can lead to fear of flying or other fears. The possible loss of decision-making and action skills leads to the avoidance of situations that require a healthy basic trust in life, such as when flying.

7. Unprocessed biography stress

Stressful experiences (loss of job, serious personal or professional defeats, experiences of violence or trauma) often lead to excessive demands on our neurobiologically effective processing of emotions. Because when our emotional center in the brain (“limbic system”) is overloaded due to stress, negative feelings can only be processed incompletely and individual memories of biographical experiences or stresses remain as “sore points” in our soul. It can be that we seem to explode “for no reason” or otherwise react highly emotionally to a stress trigger if our unconscious recognizes a similarity to an earlier “traumatizing” situation. If, for example, the choice of words of a superior is similar to the strict father who became violent under the influence of alcohol, the affected manager reacts inhibited or even “rebellious” – which amounts to professional self-sabotage.

8. Roles and tasks that contradict one’s own values ​​and motives

Anyone who has a very high need for security or emotional calm should rather reject a supposedly great job offer in a crisis region or only accept it for a very short time. Otherwise, the personally felt stress would limit the performance and wellbeing too much. And those who do not like to make decisions or even exert influence on others, but prefer to submit decision-making documents to others as a specialist: This person should not take on any or only a very limited management span. Otherwise he would feel massively stressed, not be able to give his best and sabotage himself.

9. Lack of balance in life

Those who do not permanently balance their fields of life and sources of strength make other people unhappy, become dissatisfied, stressed, physically or mentally ill themselves. Work can only be healthy and successful in the long term if there is enough rest and the body is kept healthy through enough restful sleep, good nutrition and physical fitness. Heart and soul also need time and nourishment through fulfilling hobbies and happy relationships with friends, partners and relatives.

10. Unreflected planning for the next generation or starting a family

“Because it belongs” or “because my wife wanted it so badly” are the worst possible reasons to become a father. Fathers whose “family motive” is low have a completely different understanding of their roles than those who – high levels – experience a lot of joy in caring for and looking after children. And therefore also like to wish several children. If the married couples’ often unconscious expectations diverge, deep rifts and stress are inevitable.

Solution: These 10 preventers of success are best resolved through good coaching or self-coaching. With the help of scientifically sound motivator analysis, good coaches determine the personal sources of strength and stress of their manager clients in order to enable them to optimize their lives. Furthermore, they use neurobiologically effective methods that can work in the emotional center of the brain and thus efficiently resolve stress or very stressful memories. Ultimately, they convey the most efficient self-coaching methods with which managers can independently establish their sovereignty and emotional balance and reduce stress at any time.

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