How To Eliminate Fear Of Failure As A Leader

How To Eliminate Fear Of Failure As A Leader

Are you struggling with the fear of failure as a leader, and you’re looking for ways to eliminate it?

Do you constantly struggle with thoughts such as “What if I fail,” What if I’m not good enough,” What if I’m wrong, and other doubting thoughts?

If you honestly trace the source of these thoughts, you’ll find that it’s the fear of failure giving rise to these thoughts.

Even more serious is that as a leader, you ought to be an example to your subordinates.

Not to throw shades or criticize you, if you struggle with the fear of failure as a leader, how then do you lead your team effectively?

Better still, what principles are you teaching them?

This is not to say that leaders are perfect and without flaws.

Instead, it’s to point out to you the reason you should work hard to eliminate the fear of failure as a leader.

This is because of the responsibilities attached to being a leader in your organization.

Therefore, if you’re a business leader or entrepreneur and you want to eliminate the fear of failure that’s holding you back, we are here to help you on this courageous journey.

We’ll be with you every step of the way as you read through this post to discover the steps to overcoming your fear of failure.

Let’s get started, shall we?

How To Eliminate Fear Of Failure As A Leader

Fear of failure doesn’t mean being cowardly or not conscious of one’s abilities and limitations.

On the contrary, it is a negative trait that stifles achievements, creativity, and innovation.

Over time, if not put in check and corrected, this trait can stop you from achieving the things you ought to achieve as a leader and in life generally.

Many failures, especially in career and business, have been traced to not having the needed courage to make the right decisions as at when due.

Fortunately for you, having a fear of failure is not a death sentence, neither is it incurable.

However, by taking the right steps and applying various tested procedures, you can soon find yourself a confident leader, going for the things you deserve, and making tough decisions.

Before then, let’s take a peep into what the fear of failure is all about.

The Fear of Failure, What is it?- Eliminating the Fear of Failure as a Leader

The fear of failure refers to constant and baseless or unjustifiable anxieties that one would not meet up or measure up to some set standards.

These standards might either be standards you have set by yourself and for yourself or those set by others for you.

When you fear failure, you would usually believe that you are not good enough and doubt your ability at all times.

Even when you have the needed skills and talents to succeed, you would generally not have the self-confidence to achieve success.

Additionally, this trait can also be a medical condition.

When it is a medical condition, it is referred to as atychiphobia.

When one is diagnosed with this, the underlying cause sometimes is linked to a mood or anxiety disorder.

If left untreated, this fear of failure can have debilitating effects on the sufferer both physically and emotionally.

It could result in trembling, fast heart rate/beat, feeling unwell, irrational panic or anxiety, and even depression.

Various factors have been discovered to increase one’s chances of succumbing to a fear of failure.

Some of these factors are:

  • Growing up with someone who has failed consistently in the past or has a fear of failure
  • Having past experiences where you have failed yourself
  • Expecting too much of yourself
  • Learning about the experiences of someone who has failed before
  • Sometimes, even genetics might be a factor

These are just some of the factors that might make you more susceptible to developing the fear of failure as a leader.

However, there are other causes of fear of failure that have been identified, as you would soon find out.

Causes of Developing a Fear of Failure 

A fear of failure isn’t something that just happens without reason, left for some rare and few cases where it can be linked to genetics.

Aside from that, some factors are directly responsible for one developing a fear of failure.

Understanding these factors will also help you identify the best ways to eliminate your fear of failure as a leader.

Here are a few of them:

Setting Unrealistic Expectations 

Having a wrong perception of failure can make you develop a fear of failure in the long run.

One reason why you might have the wrong view of failure is unrealistic expectations.

A disadvantage of setting unrealistic expectations is that the chances of success are very slim or even nonexistent.

Therefore, when you do not meet the expectations (not as there was a chance before), you tend to strike it as a failure.

Experiencing too many such scenarios of a perceived failure can make you develop a fear of failure in the long run.


A perfectionist feels the need to be perfect or believes that it is possible to get perfection.

Just as unrealistic expectations make one have a distorted view of failure, so does perfectionism.

When you are a perfectionist, you expect that everything you do is of the topmost level of quality.

Because of this, even when achieving success, you do not give credit to yourself.

You might still feel that it is not good enough and classify it as a failure.

A series of such cases of ‘failure’ can lead to the fear of failure in the long run.

Having a Critical Upbringing 

Our parents/guardians, coupled with the kind of environment one grows up in, can also cause a fear of failure.

Some people are raised by parents who are very critical and overdemanding of them.

They grow up feeling that they are not good enough, and their best efforts will never be enough.

Unfortunately, they are constantly judged by their parents/guardians’ standards. parents/guardians.

When they don’t measure up to these standards, they are regarded as failures.

This can shape such people growing up, whereby they start having fears of making mistakes and failing.

Past Experiences Failing 

This is another reason why you might be experiencing the feeling fear of failure as a leader that you need to eliminate immediately.

You may have had previous encounters of consistent failures.

This might be while growing up, or maybe the first time you tried to start a business or even while in school.

Depending on the gravity of this situation and the resulting impact it had on you, you might begin to experience a fear of failure when other opportunities come along.

This is because that ugly experience in the past left you with trauma even after some time has passed.

Fear of Experiencing Shame or Embarrassment 

For some, the fear of failure is not really the fear of failing in itself but the resulting shame or embarrassment that comes from it.

It is commonplace that when people have high expectations of you, or you even have of yourself, and you don’t meet up, you feel embarrassed and ashamed.

Therefore, you might reason: “Why try at all when I would most likely fail and get embarrassed”?.

Because of this, you might end up shying away from taking opportunities or making decisions because you don’t want to experience the shame that comes with failure.

Protecting One’s Reputation or Social Status 

It could also be that you have worked to build a certain reputation, image, or social status in the community where you live or among your peers.

In this case, you have a reputation to uphold as a leader.

Maybe you live your life always trying to keep this status and impress others.

You also do this to ensure that people continually hold you in high esteem.

If that is the case, you might also experience a fear of failure.

As a result, you are not optimistic about trying out new things or taking risks.

This is because you reason: “What happens to my reputation and image if it doesn’t work out well?

People will see me differently.”

That is the fear of failure gradually taking hold of you.

Pride and Ego 

True, the negative trait of pride can also make one have a fear of failure.

Proud people are always concerned about their ego and wouldn’t want anything to bruise it.

While humble people understand that they’re not above making mistakes.

They see mistakes as a part of life experiences.

On the other hand, proud people don’t want to agree that they can commit errors.

That is why even when they make mistakes, they do not admit and own up to it, neither do they apologize when they wrong others.

This trait might also be why one might experience a chronic fear of failure to keep their ego unbruised.

Signs to Show You Have a Fear of Failure as a Leader that Should be Eliminated

Do you have a fear of failure?

It is always easy to want to show confidence, so not many people admit they fear failure.

This comes as no surprise because it is not a good trait, so we wouldn’t want to identify with it.

However, do not be too quick to conclude that you do not suffer from a fear of failure, as the following signs would help you make a factual self-examination:

Therefore, watch out for these signs as a leader to point out the traits of fear of failure so you can eliminate it effectively.

Lack of Belief in Yourself

Do you usually believe that you are not good enough?

Or maybe you feel you do not have the needed skills and knowledge to achieve anything worthwhile in life?

Does this lack of belief affect you when you are about to take important steps in your life?

If you constantly have to fight self-doubt, even when it’s obvious you have relevant talent and skills to be successful, you might be suffering from a fear of failure.

Worrying too Much about Disappointing Others 

Another sign to show that you have a fear of failure is undue worry about not meeting up to the standards of others.

These people might be your parents, guardians, siblings, teachers, coaches, colleagues, subordinates, or even friends.

When you discover that you are getting yourself overly worried about what others will say if things go wrong for every action you take or inaction, you are experiencing the fear of failure.

Being Reluctant to Take Important Actions

Do you sometimes find that you are too reluctant to decide or take action on significant matters?

It might be that making such decisions would have a major impact on your life or career goals.

You should be jumping at this opportunity.

However, if you find yourself holding back longer than necessary, it might signal a fear of failure.

Undermining your Efforts 

Another common thing with people with a fear of failure is self-sabotage or undermining their own efforts.

What that means is that because they generally expect to fail, people with a fear of failure do not give their best even when they can.

They tend to sabotage their own efforts to prove to themselves and others they’re incapable of achieving success.

In a sense, they do not try to avoid the impending failure, so they can say in effect: “I told you I was gonna fail.”

Reducing People’s Expectations of you 

Because they fear failure, people with that trait would usually tell others not to expect too much from them.

Maybe before going for an interview, attempting a game, or even starting a business, they tell others they will not do well.

For them, trying at all is just a formality, and they convince others that they will not succeed.

This is because they fear what people will say when they eventually fail, so they try to prepare them for that eventuality.

That is a sign indicating a fear of failure.

Low Self Esteem 

Suffering low self-esteem or lack of confidence also points to a fear of failure.

You should be alert to signs of negative sentiments or statements when faced with opportunities in life.

If you generally feel that you are not qualified for a high position or not fit to get the best things in life, it could be a sign of low self-esteem.

And this low self-esteem also points to a deeper problem; the fear of failure, which you should strive hard to eliminate as a leader.

Excessive Anxiety or Illness Before Hitting Milestones or Making Important Decisions

Do you usually experience excessive feelings of anxiety and tension when you are just about to make important decisions as a leader?

Or could it even be that you inexplicably fall ill and suffer certain physical discomfort at those crucial times?

This is also a sign to indicate that you might be experiencing a fear of failure.

How to Eliminate the Fear of Failure as a Leader- Negative Effects of Having a Fear of Failure 

Fear of failure isn’t a desirable trait to have, as it comes with some negative effects which can affect you adversely.

These unfavorable effects are some of the reasons why you should work diligently towards eliminating your fear of failure as a leader.

Some of them are:


Isn’t it ironic that one of the negative effects of fear of failure is experiencing the failure itself?

Well, life always has a way of giving us the material equivalent of our expectations.

It is not magical, but we tend to direct our efforts to the magnitude of our expectations.

Because you have a fear of failure, you expect to fail. Hence you do not work hard enough to get success.

As a result, you’re most likely going to get failure instead of success.

Losing out on Opportunities 

Another negative effect of having a fear of failure is that you would most likely miss out on promising opportunities.

The fear of failing handicaps you from trying out new things, either because you do not believe it will succeed or do not want to bruise your ego.

This is often common with people who have had success in the past with a particular way of doing things.

You may have received many plaudits for that and might have received great recognition for your previous successes.

Therefore, when the opportunity comes to try a different field or way of doing things, you hold back.

This is because you’re scared of failing and ruining your records of success.

Consequently, making you lose out on better opportunities.

Goals Left Unachieved 

People with the fear of failure inherent in them also allow this fear to influence the goals they set and whether or not they pursue their goals and aspirations.

Usually, when you fear failure, you are more focused on preventing losses in life than you are on making gains.

Because of that, you prefer spending time and energy on safer options like working for someone else instead of starting a business.

You may have aspirations of starting a business and being independent but end up spending most of your life doing the opposite.

That is a result of a fear of failure.


The fear of failure can also cause a person to shy away from making decisions, even the most important ones.

These decisions might even be life-altering ones in their personal life or at their place of work.

Because of the fear of failure, you may avoid making tough decisions as a leader.

This is because you fear making wrong decisions that may not lead to success.

Such indecisiveness is a consequence of having a fear of failure.

Low Self Esteem 

While it is true that low self-esteem might make you have a fear of failure, it could also be the other way round.

When you experience a fear of failure, you could start undermining your own abilities and talents and feel you are not good enough.

This will, in turn, make you feel inadequate, worthless, and incompetent, adversely affecting your self-esteem.

Impact on Physical and Mental Health

A chronic fear of failure can also negatively impact your health, both physically and mentally.

People who have atychiphobia are most often unwell, fatigued, worried, and drained physically and mentally.

This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and might even cause depression in the process.

It Saps Creativity 

Creativity is birthed from trying, making mistakes, trying again, and taking calculated risks.

However, a person with a fear of failure is anything but a risk-taker.

Also, when you are not open and willing to try out things, you have a lower chance of doing something creative.

That is yet another negative effect of having a fear of failure.

Having said all that, how then do you overcome the fear of failure.

Let’s find out.

How to Eliminate the Fear of Failure as a Leader

Have the signs considered so far revealed that you are experiencing a fear of failure or run a risk of being affected by atychiphobia?

You do not need to lose hope or feel as though you are on a lost course.

The good news is that it is possible to overcome the fear of failure, whether it is just building in roots in you or stuck deep.

One or more of the following actions can help you in overcoming the fear of failure.

Identify the Root Cause of Your Fear 

You cannot successfully fight against and eliminate the fear of failure if you do not understand where the fear comes from.

That is why this is the first and most important step to take in the fight.

So, take your time to review some of the causes of having a fear of failure we’ve considered and see if you can identify which one is yours.

When you do this, you can better understand what you can do to eliminate the fear.

Have the Proper Perspective of Failure 

Remember that we mentioned earlier that one of the reasons people fear failure is because they have the wrong idea of what failure is.

Could this be true in your case?

You need to change your view of failure and understand that failing doesn’t necessarily mean you are not good enough.

When you come to grips with the fact that every success story has an element of failure in it, you are more likely to overcome your fear.

Failure is inevitable, especially if you are an ambitious person who always wants to do better in life.

It might even be an opportunity for you to learn new things and add value to yourself.

When you know this, you have peace, eliminate the fear of failure, and become a more courageous leader.

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations to Eliminate the Fear of Failure as a Leader

Many people have plunged themselves into the pit of failure because of unfulfilled expectations,

However, the sad thing is that those goals or expectations aren’t really attainable before, nor are they realistic.

When you always pursue unrealistic goals, or you set the bar too high at all times, you are doing more harm to yourself than good.

The chances of success are low, and that of failure is high.

Also, when you fail, again and again, you are setting the tone for fear of failure to develop.

Think and Make Positive Affirmations 

Your thought process also shapes your belief system and has a part to play in developing a fear of failure.

So, what do you usually tell yourself?

Do you spend a lot of time convincing yourself why you are not good enough or how you will never be a success at something?

If you do, you will most likely fail, and then the fear of failure naturally follows.

Therefore, pay attention to the ‘little voice’ inside you and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

When you do, you are most likely to overcome the fear of failure and start making waves, as you were meant to do.

Have a Plan A, B, and C; It gives Confidence and will Help you Eliminate the Fear of Failure as a Leader

Some experience chronic fear of failure sometimes because they do not see any other way if the only way before them fails.

This can make you feel great discomfort and anxiety while on the verge of making important decisions or taking action.

It helps always plan out what you want to do and have a backup plan if the initial plan fails.

Not only will this reduce the anxiety and worry you feel, but it can also help you overcome the bigger problem; the fear of failure.

Maintain a Modest View of Yourself 

Often, a fear of failure results from thinking too much of oneself, such that mistakes are considered unacceptable.

Do you have an exaggerated or inflated view of yourself?

If you do, you might run the risk of getting stuck in the mud of the fear of failure and need to overcome it.

On the other hand, when you have a modest view of yourself and your abilities, you do not expect too much from yourself.

You are also not a perfectionist that believes everything has to always fall in place perfectly.

No, but you give allowance for errors and mistakes, and as such, you are more open to try and fail if need be.

Do a Risk Analysis

The question is: “Are you really experiencing a fear of failure, or is it a fear of the unknown that is the real problem?”.

That is the case with some who are having this fear.

To overcome this, why not take time to analyze all the possible outcomes of your decisions or indecisions on a matter.

Do a risk analysis and know for sure your chances of success or failure in the action you want to take.

This can help you cope and fight against the fear of failure.

Worry Less About Things you Can’t Control

The fear of failure has a blinding effect.

It can blind you to your skills, talents, and abilities but open your eyes to the things you do not have or cannot do.

The sad thing about this is that most times, the things within your control are even more than those you can’t control.

Therefore, it is important to focus on what you can control in the fight against the fear of failure.

When you do this, you also stop worrying about the ones outside your control but look for ways to improve in those areas.

Change your Environment or Circle

Your environment and your circle of friends or acquaintances can indeed be contributing to your fear of failure.

Could it be that you live with people who are suffering from this or have high standards and expectations, and it’s affecting you?

Or is it possible that your environment reminds you of past experiences at failure, which keeps you stuck in the past?

It might be time to change your environment.

If you find out that this would be the best solution or help to eliminate the fear of failure, do not hesitate to take action.

Seek Expert Advice

There are times when fear of failure becomes so chronic to the extent that it starts affecting you mentally and physically.

It might also weaken you, make you unproductive, and hinder you in many areas of life.

When that happens, it is time to speak to a medical practitioner.

An expert can thus provide you with a psychotherapy session to help deal with the mental effects.

And if need be, they could also recommend medications to treat physical problems that result from the fear of failure.

Wrapping it up on How To Eliminate Fear Of Failure As A Leader

If you are experiencing the fear of failure as a leader, be it a minimal level or a chronic one, you are not alone.

You can draw great comfort knowing that many others have had to deal with this at some point in their lives.

The good thing is that they did not allow that fear to overwhelm them, keep them from achieving their dreams or destroy them.

They worked hard to eliminate it.

You can too.

Identify your cause of fear, always think positive thoughts, have the right perspective on failure, yourself, and your expectations.

If need be, seek the help of an expert in handling your fears.

Before long, you would have eliminated the fear of failure and become a more confident/effective leader.