Leading Fearlessly: How to be a more fearless leader in 2024

Published by Suzanna de Baca on

As the new year approached, I reviewed my resolutions from last year and was shocked to realize I’d met the personal and professional goals I had set for myself. Why the surprise? Over the last year I experienced a great deal of change and loss, and in the midst of struggling to maintain balance, I didn’t notice that I was actually moving forward. Upon reflection, I attributed my ability to carry on to caring less and less what anyone thinks of me, letting go of other people’s issues, and having confidence that ultimately everything will work out. As a result, this year I decided to make New Year’s goals that are less about specific actions and more about continuing to cultivate confidence and fearlessness – both personally and professionally.

With that in mind, I decided to turn to other leaders to ask them about their own goals for the new year. I posed this question: “What is one way you plan to be fearless as a leader in 2024?”

Kate Banasiak, president and CEO, Diversified Management Services:

My chosen word for the year is “empower,” reflecting my commitment to granting authority and strength. In the evolving backdrop of the last three years, I’ve observed both the positive and negative impacts when individuals feel secure expressing their truths and ideas. As a leader, my goal is to exemplify attentive listening, responding with curiosity and empathy. Through this approach, I aim to create an environment where people are empowered to actively contribute to positive change in both their personal and professional lives. I believe that fostering empowerment not only enhances individual confidence but also cultivates a collective force for meaningful improvement.

Deidre DeJear, owner, Caleo Enterprises:

In 2024, my leadership journey is characterized by fearlessness as I wholeheartedly embrace authenticity. Fear will be a companion, not an obstacle, as I navigate challenges with resilience and enduring strength. Each setback transforms into an opportunity to refine and rebuild, emerging even stronger. Every pause grants moments for reflection and recalibration.

Fostering a spirit of inclusion, I graciously welcome the authenticity of others, acknowledging the power of diverse perspectives. Committed to fearlessly accepting every aspect of my being, I establish a leadership environment where fellow women can do the same. I actively amplify the voices of authenticity, reshaping the leadership narrative with courage, compassion and unwavering self-love.

My mission is to inspire women to boldly embrace their true selves, cultivating a culture of resilience, empathy and genuine connection within our community. Together, we define success on our terms, fearlessly navigating the beautiful complexity that defines us.

Katherine Harrington, president and CEO, West Des Moines Chamber:

I’m driven by the profound words of the great philosopher Taylor Swift: “Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful. It’s being terrified, but you jump anyway.” As a leader, embracing fear is paramount for personal and organizational growth.

Recognizing our strengths and areas for improvement is essential. Instead of avoiding fear, we must view it as a catalyst for development. Understanding our individual and collective strengths empowers us to unlock our full potential, while acknowledging growth areas allows us to confront fear with confidence.

In the pursuit of fearless leadership, I’m dedicated to fostering an environment that encourages self-awareness, team collaboration and continuous improvement. By embracing fear as a path to progress, we’ll not only overcome challenges but also inspire growth and resilience in our organization and community.

2024 marks a year of transformative leadership, where we jump into the unknown with determination and unity, fueled by the belief that fearless leaders are the driving force behind success.

Dana James, publisher and founder, Black Iowa News:

By letting go. 

I’m rejecting the notion that because I can do many things well, I must do everything myself. I’m surrendering control of the narrative. I’m firing the internal critic who over-amplifies my mistakes and downplays my achievements. I’m silencing the replay of negative conversations, insults and microaggressions. I’m relinquishing the need to prove my worth to anyone. I’m forgiving myself for time wasted in the wrong places with small-minded people. I’m freeing myself from worrying about the things I can’t control. I’m abandoning spaces — and people — that negatively affect my outlook and spirit. I’m overcoming the urge to people-please, over-apologize and remain polite in the face of abuse or mistreatment. I’m jettisoning the baggage to fulfill my purpose, poised with new self-awareness and acceptance.

Jenna Knox, foundation director, Mission Cancer + Blood:

Focus my energy on action. A fearless leader gets things done and delivers outcomes. As a woman who wears many hats, it is easy for me to become overwhelmed with a never-ending to-do list, or to feel like I am not meeting all the expectations. My goal for 2024 is to push past self-doubt or analysis paralysis and ground myself in a commitment to act. Simple, often-small actions, such as adding my thoughts to a conversation, starting a project I’ve been meaning to tackle, or showing up for a cause I care about, will culminate into meaningful impact.

Categories: Leadership