A Culture of Fear is Never Normal

It should not get any crazier! We are acting against this statement. As SPARQ360 we believe that an Angst culture should NEVER become normal in an organization! It is devastating for the involvement and motivation of the people, killing for the trust in the organization and extinguishing all initiative and creativity. The fact that there are now major articles about fear culture that show that this phenomenon is no longer an incidental phenomenon, but a growing problem. To change that is not easy, fear culture is anchored in the unconscious and invisible layers of people and of the organization.


Organizations are pushing harder and harder to achieve their results and are working with tighter targets. That pressure produces fear of failure and stress about not being able to adequately meet expectations. Because if you do not deliver, you will be replaced … The pressure on people keeps rising: through the focus on short-term results, the call for even more growth, the ever faster changes in the market and the increasing regulation. In this race, man has become out of the picture and has become subordinate to the results.

We see a number of causes for this:

  • The interpretation of the prevailing culture as a culture of fear is scary, you put your head above the ground that makes you vulnerable.
  • The recognition of fear is a taboo and is often interpreted as a sign of weakness. When you talk about your fear, you admit that there is someone else who scares you.
  • Many place the responsibility of a culture of fear on the boss, and do not feel responsible for the culture of fear themselves. But the reality is that the choice to continue working in a culture of fear keeps that culture afloat. To admit that to yourself is hard to swallow.
  • There is no place in the organization to make the fear culture safe to discuss.

What to do?


Recognize the culture of fear and enter the DIALOGUE with the whole organization:
To enter into a dialogue we have been somewhat forgotten in organizations. Often one communicates in silos or sends a survey or an email, but that is something very different than having a real dialogue. And yet every good relationship starts with a dialogue, in which both sides listen to each other and move in the perspective of the other.


Acknowledge the existing culture and clearly state that a culture of fear is not normal and unacceptable. Enter into a reflective structural dialogue with everyone in the organization. This can easily be realized with new technology with and for all people (anonymously or by name).



Take the initiative as  a leader  and and lead by example.
Engaging and embracing a culture change requires courage. Yet it is the leader only who can initiate a new momentum, create space for change and give a structural commitment. Leaders lead by example and become rolemodels by showing consistent behavior and taking the lead in the change process themselves.

Arthur van Gerven

Arthur van Gerven

Facilitates improvements with strong client centric view and supporting teams to be successful are key words for his skillset.

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