Avoiding FOFO: An Imperative for Modern Leaders

leadership May 23, 2023
Professional woman looking worried

With so much change and uncertainty in the workplace, the lack of open and authentic communication is an emerging area of concern for most organizations. The culprit...FOFO, or the Fear of Finding Out. This describes a pervasive avoidance of confronting uncomfortable truths or realities in an organization. It's a potential problem leaders must strive to address and avoid to foster a healthy, productive culture of trust, inclusion, and safety. 

In my segment on AM Northwest, I shared the five ways leaders can avoid FOFO within their organization.

  1. Foster Open Communication: FOFO can stifle critical discussions, particularly if an org culture limits information flow and discourages contrary opinions. So encourage a culture where issues, concerns, and ideas can be openly discussed without fear of reprisal. Regular town hall meetings and open forums can allow employees to voice their concerns and opinions, mainly when working in remote and hybrid working environments.
  2. Lead with Transparency: Transparency is a cornerstone of trust. This means being upfront, open, and honest about your challenges and the rationale behind your decisions. Also, leaders who hold themselves accountable for their actions and decisions show they're not above the rules. Finally, leading by example inspires other team members to do the same confidently.
  3. Be Courageous Getting Feedback: Leaders must actively seek feedback from others and be open to constructive criticism to help avoid confirmation bias (the tendency to seek out info that supports what they already believe). Engaging in a 360 feedback process is one-way leaders can learn about and face any uncomfortable truths for their improvement and avoid the fear of criticism. 
  4. Promote Learning and Growth: The essence of growth lies in one's ability to stay "in the know" and continuously seek new insights and knowledge. This advances innovation and creativity. Learning and inquiry must be valued while acknowledging mistakes will be made along the way, and they should be viewed as opportunities for learning rather than situations to be feared. 
  5. Embrace Diversity Over Trend Chasing: A FOFO culture can result in the suppression of issues that can be detrimental to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Conversely, avoiding FOMO leads to more thoughtful and inclusive decision-making that values various perspectives and experiences over simply following popular trends. 

Leaders must also establish robust mechanisms for gathering and analyzing data that informs decision-making and have the courage to face reality, confront the uncomfortable, and act decisively and transparently.

 Reach out if your organization needs support in building authentic trust and enhancing communication and leadership skills:  https://www.carolparkerwalsh.com 

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