Rethinking Leadership - Scale and Fear

What is your risk management strategy?


Leadercast offers an exclusive interview with marketing entrepreneur and best-selling author, Seth Godin, about determining the size and scale for your organizational development.

Have you considered whether or not there is a "right size" for your organization? Seth explains that scale is not what it used to be decades ago; in today's marketplace, leaders have many ways to build their business, from freelancers to contractors to digital platforms to strategic partners and more. Before you scale up, determine what truly drives your organizational culture and unique proposition.

Seth also discusses the concept of fear vs. risk; how our response to fear can stop growth, and how you can discern the impact that fear plays on your leadership.

There are two things I'd like to talk about. The first is this idea of scale. What's the right size for an organization? Henry Ford had Ford shepherds raising Ford sheep to make Ford wool to be woven into Ford fabric to put into Ford cars, because scale was all that mattered. That if you could control everything you would be fine.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible for someone like me, has none or one employees and can reach far more people than almost any newspaper in the world. That scale is different now than it used to be. We need to make real conscious decisions about the difference between the work we freelance out, the work we put to spec and the core group that are in it for the long haul with us, side by side.

I was talking to Ed from Pixar this morning, Pixar's core asset is not the software. The software to make Monster's Inc. is easily to knock off now. The core asset is this group of people, dozens who get it and who can replicate the magic as they go forward. So I think we need to think deeply about why we are scaling.

The second idea that's worth identifying is, what is our brain telling us when the fear shows up? There are lot's of different kinds of fear, there is the genetic Darwinian fear of, don't jump off a building, because if you jump off a building bad things will happen. That's why parachuting is so scary, because we are wired not to jump out of a plane. But then there is the fear of looking people in the eye, the fear of telling someone the truth, the fear of being present, the fear of saying to someone, "I made this."

Those things used to be riskier than they are, those things used to be less important than they are. But now the work we do is the work of emotional labor, of being the professional who says, "I am feeling this fear and that's how I know I'm on the right track."

So what I would say to someone who is feeling the fear as they are growing, is we better be able to discern between the fear of, I'm about to go into a cage with a saber-tooth tiger. This is stupid and the fear as Steve Pressfield calls it, are the resistance, the lizard brain. The voice in the back of our head that's heckling us, and when we hear that fear we can't make it go away, but we can dance with it.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the author of 17 books that have been best-sellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dipand Purple Cow.

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