September 30, 2014

Breaking the Fear Barrier: Don’t Let Fear Prevent Success in Your Company

Breaking the Fear Barrier“A company’s worst enemy is not always the competition. Sometimes it’s the fear that lives within its own walls.” ~ Breaking the Fear Barrier

Fear is universal. It’s in our DNA, our basic structure. If it wasn’t for fear, mankind wouldn’t exist today. It’s the fear that makes humans aware there is danger. It tells us to pay attention because there is the possibility that something bad is going to happen. It’s one of those emotions that is deeply ingrained inside each of us. It will never change. Although fear is what has kept humans alive, it can also be very disruptive if it permeates every part of your life including work. You can become so fearful that you are not thinking clearly. The fear paralyzes you to the point you can’t move forward – or worse yet, the entire company doesn’t move forward.

As a business person, fear can either work for you by making you pay attention, becoming better at what you are doing. Or it can work against you because you are so fearful you’re unwilling to take any chances, make any decisions.

A Must Read for Business Success

Every CEO, president and business owner, every entrepreneur or startup founder should read, Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies From the Inside Out And What To Do About It written by Tom Rieger.

Why? Because fear permeates through not only our individual, personal lives but also through the hallways of every company to some degree or another. This is not to scare you – or to put even more fear into you. If you want your company to truly be successful, if you want to run your company with the least stress and the least amount of problems possible, then you need to read this book.

Fear acts as an invisible barrier. It can stop your company from closing that next big deal, attracting the right employee talent or developing a product that will allow your company to dominate the marketplace, are just a few examples. As it states in the book:

“These barriers might seem insurmountable, but they are not. They were built internally, and they can be destroyed internally.”

The Three Levels of the Fear Pyramid of Bureaucracy

The Great Recession may be over but the uncertain economy, divided politics in Washington and the rapid rate of change in our personal and work lives only leads to more fear. That’s why it is necessary to identify the fear that exists in your company.

The author, Tom Reiger (@TomReiger), knows of what he speaks in the book. He has studied fear and its missed expectations. Through his work, he is considered a leader in developing methods and frameworks to identify and remove barriers to success.

In Breaking the Fear Barrier, Reiger identifies the three levels of fear and the resulting bureaucracy:

  • Parochialism: A tendency to force others to view the world from only one perspective or through a narrow filter, when local needs and goals are viewed as more important than broader objectives and outcomes.
  • Territorialism: Hoarding or micromanaging internal headcount, resources, or decision authority in an effort to maintain control.
  • Empire building: Attempts to assert control over people, functions or resources in an effort to regain or enhance self-sufficiency.

Can you relate to any of these in your company? All three levels limit success, stifle employee engagement and, as the book states, infuses a sense of futility across the organization. Fear can literally zap the energy right out of a company.

Fear is about perceiving potential loss. In the workplace it can include loss of power, loss of respect, loss of a raise or bonus, or loss of a job. This is what creates the walls or barriers within an organization; which then leads to the company becoming “stuck” and not as successful.

Removing the Fear Can Transform Your Company

Reiger shows in his book how identifying and addressing the fear on all levels can bring about extraordinary results such as skyrocketing business, improved service rankings, dramatic drop in turnover, increased sales and improved morale. The author goes on to demonstrate that by rooting out the fear within a company, you can create a culture of confidence, engagement and long-term success.

The book is on target. It’s what everyone – and every company – goes through. Fear is the destroyer of creativity and action. Yet, fear isn’t always bad. At times, in life and in business, it keeps you from making mistakes that will be very costly. The key is to know the difference. To do that you need to look fear right in the face and deal with it. If you can eliminate the fear that exists, your business will have an opportunity for growth and success.

This book was so interesting that when I was at the library browsing through the recently published books it just jumped right out at me. When I read a few pages, I knew that this was a book I wanted to review and share with the readers of Small Business Trends.

Breaking the Fear Barrier is easy to read, well organized and well worth your time to improve your business; as well as understand yourself and those you work with. It can be a pathway to transforming your business and taking it to a whole new level of success.

8 Comments ▼

Howard Lewinter


Howard Lewinter Howard Lewinter guides, focuses and advises CEOs, presidents and business owners to greater business success throughout the United States. Howard also publishes a blog about business success, Talk Business With Howard, where he shares his insight and perspective about leadership, management or any business topic that relates to running a successful business.

8 Reactions

  1. Thanks Howard, great post, and sounds like a great book. However, I can’t resist adding that fear in a business context, when harvested and managed correctly, can quickly become the power of alertness, antennae up, scanning the environment … the equivalent of defensive driving, except for your business.

    http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/harness-fear-by-turning-it-to-power-tim-berry

  2. Hi Howard, welcome and congrats on your first post with us. Excellent book review.

    – Anita

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