Is fear holding back Australian business leaders?

To steer their organisation through the good times and bad in order to fuel growth, business leaders must not let the fear of the unknown drag them down. However, a new survey from a top Australian university suggests that some of the country's most fearful employees might be those near the top of the hierarchy.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 Australian workers, conducted by the University of Melbourne's Centre for Workplace Leadership, half (49 per cent) of respondents said they “fret about what the future holds for them at work”.

Of some concern was the finding that those in managerial roles reported being fearful at work more than non-managerial employees. More than half (54 per cent) of the managers polled said they worry about what the future holds for them at work, compared to 47 per cent of other employees.

“Australians are deeply worried about their future at work,” stated Peter Gahan, director professor at the Centre for Workplace Leadership.

“With technological advances and globalisation the world of work is rapidly changing and it is making Australian workers uneasy.”

Government workers in particular believed that “more effective leadership and management” could be the key to improving productivity. In addition, eight out of 10 respondents said they are open to changes in their workplace if they result in increases in productivity.

“Aussie workers are willing to change and are open to learning but they are clearly calling out for leadership in the workplace that motivates and inspires them and for greater use of technology that makes it easier to do their job,” Mr Gahan concluded.

With employees at all organisational levels expressing concerns and uncertainty about the future, the research highlights the need for leaders to seize control and inspire confidence in their workers. A leadership development program could help these leaders reach that next level, helping them identify strengths and opportunities for improvement to gain a better self-awareness of their capabilities.