Fear: human barriers to innovation and change


Leading on from my article on Thursday last week, “Leading Through Transitional Times (Innovative Adaptation)”


I wanted to discuss why businesses and organisations find it challenging to adopt innovation or change.


According to a recent McKinsey survey, 85 per cent of executives believe fear of the unknown holds back innovation efforts in their organisations. Furthermore, 90 per cent of companies aren’t doing anything about it.


The research unveils that corporate innovation and change are stifled primarily by three types of fear:


1- Fear of criticism, 


2- Fear of uncertainty, and 


3- Fear of negative career impact. 

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

— Nelson Mandela


Just as leaders focus on vision, systems and initiatives that stimulate idea generation and risk-taking, they must also develop a culture that considers individuals’ emotional and motivational experiences at work and allays the fears that will hold them and their teams back.


Worries about failure, criticism, and career impact keep many people from embracing innovation and change.

What are we afraid of?


Fear is a complex and personal topic—what intimidates or paralyses some can motivate others to act boldly.


Loss aversion takes the steering wheel and drives us to hedge our bets when we believe our decisions can risk our advancement or job compensation.


This results in employees being reluctant to fully invest (or gamble) their careers on innovation and change.


This is why we reluctantly adopt new innovative ideas or readily adapt to change.


A leader with a high level of Motivational Intelligence (MQ) is much more successful at alleviating these career concerns by making innovation and change an explicit requirement of professional success.


For example, companies with leaders with high levels of MQ are three times more likely to adopt new innovative ideas and embrace the change at 10X the speed, giving them an increased advantage of overall success. And five times more likely to report encouragement of experimentation with the innovative ideas and change process.



“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

— Plato



So how do we create a culture that accounts for the human side of innovation, change and internal motivation?


Leading With Motivational Intelligence “Leading through turbulence and transition.”


Great leaders see the influence of motivation and culture change across their teams daily.


They see it in how open or close-minded their people are; they see it if there is discretionary effort; they see it every time they move the team in a new direction – whether there is buy-in or resistance.


Yet, while they recognise the incredible impact of motivation intelligence on innovation and change, they frequently struggle with one fundamental question –


How can I positively impact my team’s motivation to adopt innovation and change?


Motivational Intelligence is the key differentiating factor between people who succeed and those who struggle or ultimately fail. It is the third and most influential level of human Intelligence.


Having a high IQ and EQ in no way guarantees a person’s success; having a high MQ does. 


We specialise in leveraging the growth mindset and performance psychology of motivational Intelligence (MQ), the same motivation used by some of the most successful and iconic companies worldwide.


If you want to be a more innovative and influential leader able to elevate the success of your business and your team, then this is the conversation for you.


We look forward to having it with you.


Click the link below to learn more about how we can help you think bigger, be better, and achieve more.




James Fleming

The Power Within Training,

The Motivational Intelligence Company


#motivationintelligence, #mentoring #business #growth, #thepowerwithintraining, #traininganddevelopment, #energytransition, #construction, #leadershipdevelopment, #thecompletegame