Breaking The Fear Barrier by Tom Rieger - Book review

Breaking the Fear Barrier

How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out, and What to Do About It

By: Tom Rieger

Published: August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 220 pages
ISBN-10: 1595620540
ISBN-13: 978-1595620545
Publisher: Gallup Press

"It was if were hearing the same story again and again. The language may have been different, but the basic lesson was the same: Fear destroys companies. More specifically, fear leads companies to destroy themselves", writes Senior Practice Expert for Gallup, Tom Rieger, in his groundbreaking and research based book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out, and What to Do About It. The author describes how fear can destroy a company in any industry, and offers ideas for overcoming that fear to become a courageous organization.

Tom Rieger provides the extensive global research conduced by Gallup that examined and identified the fear barrier facing many companies. When that fear barrier is reached, companies become stuck, in the terms utilized by Gallup. Regardless of the business or the industry, and despite operating through what are usually considered best management practices, the stuck companies had some unknown obstacle in their way. The research uncovered that barrier as being fear. This sense of fear, within the companies, created their own barriers to success and led to stifling bureaucracies that limited outlooks and options, while ending employee engagement as a positive force. The Gallup research was conclusive. Fear destroys otherwise well managed companies.

Tom Rieger (photo left) understands the dangers of fear to an organization but recognizes that fear need not be a debilitating state for a company. Fear creates barriers, and one of the responses to that buildup of fear is an ever expanding bureaucracy. The bureaucratic model is slow to respond and works against employee engagement, resulting in an alienation from the organization, its goals, and its customers. The end result is a company in demise and even destruction. The bureaucratic responses are as follows:

* Parochialism where only one worldview is acceptable
* Territorialism where micromanagement and control become the norm
* Empire building where control over people and resources is enforced

To counter these bureaucratic responses to fear, Tom Rieger identifies strategies to break through the fear barrier and the bureaucratic model. In the place of fear, a sense of courage and true leadership are encouraged and supported to achieve organizational success. Without that courage, the fear based company will self destruct at great cost to all stakeholders.

For me, the power of the book is how Tom Rieger combines cutting edge global research with an insightful diagnosis of how fear creates barriers to success within companies. The author describes the fear factors that create massive and destructive bureaucratic barriers. Not only do these barriers stifle success and employee engagement, but work toward the actual destruction of the company. Tom Rieger provides the practical and barrier breaking strategies that have worked to overcome the fear factors at work in other successful companies. The author offers recommendations for creating a new type of courageous company, and a new type of courage based leadership.

I highly recommend the insightful and solution oriented book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out, and What to Do About It by Tom Rieger, to anyone seeking real world proven and research based solutions to overcoming the organizational paralysis that results from fear. This book will provide the critical strategies for overcoming the fear barrier and revitalizing your company for success.

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