When fear appears in a team, a frequent reaction will be to try to take the fear away. What I’ve seen most often happen is that people try to reassure the team. They’ll either go ahead and show that they are not afraid, or they’ll tell the team not to be afraid as they cared for everything.
Such a solution is based on projecting one’s anxieties onto others and assuming that it is what they are anxious about. It’s an approach that works whenever the assumption was the right one. But if it wasn’t right, it provided the team with a new fear. The team now knows that the leader doesn’t take the time to assess and understand the situation. It is sufficient to make them doubt the leader’s ability to lead them.
It’s fighting fear with fear.
A leader who can welcome the team’s worries shows respect for whatever it is they fear. It gives the team a sense of being respected. For the leader, it is a moment in which his attention shifts to be present to what is perceived as a danger. It’s a presence that allows for a dialogue and thus an analysis of the danger, not only the one of what the team is anxious about but also allowing to learn what this anxiety means for the team.
Whenever fear is met with respect and curiosity, clear answers will appear as to what must be done. Which often allows to gain time.
It is welcoming fear to see it dissolve.