5 Things That Scare the Hell Out of Your Manager

Even Gordon Gekko, a scary manager in his own right, has fears related to his leadership

Even Gordon Gekko, a scary manager in his own right, has fears related to his leadership | Source: 20th Century Fox

Being in charge can be scary. When you’re thrust into the position of manager, boss, CEO, etc., you’re suddenly not just punching the clock when you come into work — you’re expected to produce results and keep the whole operation from imploding. Leadership positions, though typically coveted for their prestige and higher pay, can be extremely stressful for those reasons. To put it simply, being the boss isn’t always the cakewalk you may have assumed it is.

But there are some very specific fears that your manager or boss has related to their job. When you’re at the apex of an organization — or even a specific part of an organization — there are threats coming at you from all sides. You may have enemies among the ranks, sniping for your job. Something unexpected can happen, making you appear totally incompetent. Or, you might even sabotage yourself by believing you’re not good enough for the role.

On top of all that, don’t forget you need to make sure your employees are happy, productive, and making your boss happy.

But for the things that managers and those in leadership positions fear the most, we can look to a 2014 survey of 116 executives by Roger Jones, CEO of London-based consulting company Vantage Hill Partners. His findings, which he wrote about for the Harvard Business Review, revealed a handful of specific, key fears that many leaders had in common. Here are those five fears.

1. “Imposter syndrome”

not happy at work, tired man in office in front of laptop

Member of the company leadership freaking out | Source: iStock

If you’re not familiar with Imposter Syndrome, it refers to the feeling or idea that you’re not actually qualified for the job you have, or possess any kind of authority. You feel like an imposter — a fraud. And this is a big problem for many executives, according to Jones’s survey. In fact, it was the biggest and most prevalent fear among his respondents. “This fear diminishes their confidence and undermines relationships with other executives,” Jones wrote.

2. Underachieving

Seeing sales slump

Seeing sales slump | Source: iStock

When you’re in charge, you have more skin in the game. No longer can you show up to work, clock in, screw around for hours, and then feign effort to skate by. No, as a member of management and the leadership team, you’re now more invested in the organization, and that means seeing it grow and prosper. The biggest fear related to that? Coming up short, or underachieving. Many people who make it into management are overachievers to begin with, and to get a big promotion and then fail? It can be crushing.

3. Mutiny

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest | Source: Disney

Every workplace has its internal politics, and when you’re at the head of the table, many other people are going to be gunning for you. They might want to take your place, or simply see you fail. Perhaps it’s a jealousy issue, or some sort of personal vendetta. Either way, there’s going to be uneasiness among the ranks, and if it isn’t quickly snuffed out, you can end up with a mutiny on your hands. That is a real fear for many managers and bosses.

4. Looking stupid

Michael Scott and his second head in 'The Office'

Michael Scott and his second head in ‘The Office’ | Source: NBC

Shame — or the avoidance of shame — is one of the primary factors that motivates our behavior. Nobody wants to look stupid or feel embarrassed, and we’ll do almost anything we can to avoid it. You probably lay awake at night, replaying some humiliating thing that happened to you as a child. Well, imagine something similar happening to you as the head of a workplace, or as the guy or gal in charge. You’ll never live it down.

Everyone’s afraid of looking stupid or incompetent.

5. Looking weak

Source: A manager feels helpless

A manager feels helpless | Source: iStock

Looking stupid in front of your employees is scary. But so is looking or feeling weak and powerless. Have you ever served under a boss or manager who wasn’t respected? You could walk all over them, and so could everyone else. That can be emasculating, deflating, and make you feel toothless — which makes it a very real, and very frightening fear for the people in charge.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: