Curt Fowler | Anxious Leaders are Bad Leaders

| March 11, 2018

Curt Fowler |  Fowler & Company | Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

Anxious leaders are quick to judge. Anxious leaders do not accept mistakes as a natural part of learning and pushing for greater things. Anxious leaders are never in the moment. They are pre-occupied with the past or the future. Anxious leaders are so concerned about their future, they fail to care for the futures of their people.

And I am way too anxious. And the things I get anxious about are not worthy of my worries. I can worry about finances when I have plenty. I can worry about my children even when they are safely tucked into their beds. I can worry about what you are thinking about me when the statistics show you are not thinking about me. You are most likely too busy worrying about what others are thinking about you!

Isn’t this silly? Chapter 6, verse 27 of the Book of Matthew states that worry will not add an inch to our height or a minute to our life. How true is that? Worrying adds nothing positive to our lives but likely shortens our lives because stress causes so many of our ailments. How can we stop worrying? I was listening to a great sermon on my run yesterday that outlined seven steps to overcoming anxiety. I wanted to share with you my favorites.

1. Check Yourself – In Psalm 139, verse 23 David gives a great example of switching his mind from thinking about his enemies to focusing on his inner thoughts. It is not our problems (the economy, lack of sales, children not behaving) that cause our anxiety, but how we interpret them. If we will switch our mind to solutions, we can move to acting. When we are acting to overcome our problems, our anxieties fade.

2. Watch Your Intake – We are constantly intaking media. From social media to 24/7 news, our minds are flooded with information designed to cause anxiety. Bad news sells. We pray for peace, but there is no room left in our minds for it! Stop intaking the junk, start intaking more good.

3. Switch from I to We – The word anxious has “I” right in the middle of it. If I (there is that word again) am anxious about my (another form of I) future, I cannot be present for the people I lead. I am not focused on their future. Great leaders help the people they lead accomplish their dreams. Focus on helping your people and your anxieties will fall away.

Also, share your battles. As leaders, we sometimes mistakenly believe we cannot show our weaknesses or our fears. That is a lie. Vulnerability creates trust. Great organizations run on trust. Share your burdens. Your team will trust you more and they will help you find solutions you would have never found on your own.

4. Say No Proudly – I am a born people pleaser. I cannot stand to tell people no. Thank the Lord I am now married and a can respond to all requests with “let me check with my wife.” Saying yes is way too easy in the moment and creates so much pain in the future. Commit to not saying yes in the moment to anything that requires your time. I tell people I need to check with my wife. You can say you need to check your schedule. It doesn’t matter. Just commit to not say yes in the moment to anything!

5. Live With Integrity – The word integrity means whole. It means we are the same person whoever we are with. A person of integrity knows their priorities. Knowing your priorities allows you to say no to things that are not your priority. Saying yes to anything means you are saying no to something. People of integrity are concerned with being true to themselves and their priorities, not what other people think.

6. Indecision – Indecision is a prison. We claim to be thorough with all our research and over-thought. Pray about it. Seek counsel from one person if it is a big decision. Then make the decision. If you make the wrong decision, it will not be the end of the world. Just decide.

7. Reclaim Your Imagination – We all used to be playful. We made up games, songs whatever. What happened? We become so focused on our to-do lists and worries that we stop dreaming. Imagine a great future for you, your family, your people and your business. Keep your eyes on those inspiring futures. Obstacles will come. You will overcome them. Expect great things.

Think about the best leaders you have ever encountered. Were they present when speaking to you? Were they calm during a storm? You can be that leader if you operate from a place of peace.

Try to these tips and see if they create more peace in your life. If you’d like a link to the full sermon that inspired this column, drop me an email.

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Curt Fowler is President of Fowler & Company and Director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey  He is dedicated to helping leaders create and achieve a compelling vision for their organization. Curt is a syndicated business writer and keynote speaker. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.

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