Alan Weiss’ new book Fearless Leadership
World-class business consultant and prolific author Alan Weiss’ new book Fearless Leadership: Overcoming Reticence, Procrastination, and the Voices of Doubt Inside Your Head contains the countless hallmarks separating his work from his peers and contemporaries alike. After over sixty books, Weiss has long since perfected an unique combination of accessible eloquence, personality, and probing insight capable of assisting otherwise talented and intelligent professionals realize the full range of their potential. The value of his work is not, however, limited to the professional arena alone. Fearless Leadership: Overcoming Reticence, Procrastination, and the Voices of Doubt Inside Your Head is rife with principles and guidance equally applicable to one’s personal life as well and this far-reaching vision permeating his texts is another attribute setting him apart from the pack.
The personal touches he brings to bear on the work are notable. He leads with the personal by beginning Fearless Leadership discussing his father’s experiences as a paratrooper during the Second World War. This grounds Weiss’ observations in an immediate way for readers; he establishes fear and its effects on us as a subject he has considered throughout his entire adult life. It also serves to introduce readers to the thesis underlying the book – that the fears we experience are usually expendable and often underpinned by perceived threats that really aren’t threats at all.
Instead, our fear is invariably a manifestation of ego. Ego can show itself in many ways, but it is typically, in these cases, the result of our fear of rejection. Weiss observes how powerful and well-situated professionals wildly successful in their position often ask him if they could have “made it” in fields his other clients involve themselves in. This insecurity and need for validation reflects a core fear such individuals have that they are frauds in some respect. This sort of fear can breed domineering personalities and sabotage leadership.
His expansion on the concept of stress-induced response, “fight or flight”, into fight, flight, or fright, is an important contribution to our understanding of the text. I have witnessed this borne out in my own personal experiences as well – fear freezing people, rendering them unable to react and adept to a fluid and demanding situation. His exploration of this idea will prove illuminating and ring true for many readers as well.
Weiss stresses that fear is, more often than not, a learned behavior. He provides ample examples supporting the idea. Adult life spawns it in us, sometimes we carry it with us from childhood, but the central point in the end is that something learned, not something ingrained in the DNA of our character, can be unlearned as well. Such learned behaviors are anathema to effective leadership and short-circuiting them is essential for maximizing our leadership potential.
Weiss’ book draws from historical examples, well-chosen research, and his own observations to create an impressive overview of the subject. Fearless Leadership: Overcoming Reticence, Procrastination, and the Voices of Doubt Inside Your Head is far from his first book, but it rates among his best and, even better, stands as a text readers can return to over time to glean further insights into the issues it discusses.