• Toby Sinclair

The Four Fatal Fears of your team

As a leader I’m always curious how to create the right environment for teams to succeed.

Increasingly, elite sports teams have been sparking my inspiration.

Eddie Jones, England Rugby Coach, recently highlighted the work of Frank Dick. A former director of coaching for British Athletics. He led the GB team into a golden era, coaching several elite athletes such as Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe.

In the build up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Frank coached the England Rugby Team on improving leadership capabilities.

Frank focused on what he calls the “Four Fatal Team Fears”:

1. Making a mistake

2. Losing

3. Criticism

4. Rejection

When individuals and teams are fearful it will significantly impact their performance. Over time, a fearful team environment will impact the mental wellbeing of the team.

Leaders should accept that these four fears appear to some degree in every team. Establishing the right environment and systems that enable the level of fear to be reduced is vital.

Here are just a few behaviours you can role model to help reduce the fear within your teams:

  1. Share your own mistakes with the team – What did you learn and how did it help you become stronger

  2. At the end of every 1:1 ask for feedback – What can i do differently?

  3. Share feedback you receive from others with your team – Not just the good, but the constructive too

  4. Celebrate acts of bravery from the team – This might be even the smallest action, such as a quieter team member contributing an idea in a meeting

By acting as a role model the team are likely to model your behaviours which in turn will go some way to addressing the four fatal fears.

To conclude, the next time you are working to develop a team, perhaps taking a moment to reflect on these four fatal fears may help you find a breakthrough.


My Life and Rugby: The Autobiography

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©2020 by Toby Sinclair.