Summary of Driving Fear Out of the Workplace

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

Driving Fear Out of the Workplace book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Many modern managers unconsciously evoke fear to get results from their subordinates. Kathleen D. Ryan and Daniel K. Oestreich build on their consulting work and 260 interviews with staff members across organizational levels and industries to show how fear pervades the modern workplace and why it’s problematic. Powerful first-person vignettes from their fieldwork demonstrate how fear can motivate short-term results but erode trust and undermine productivity in the long term. Plenty of legitimate anxieties arise in the office, but this incisive primer will help you spot the subtle ways your organization might be adding to them by creating a harmful backdrop of fear. Managers will find this manual’s clear organization and detailed steps practical and helpful. As anxiety-inducing corporate changes grow more common and as workplace hierarchies flatten, this book’s advice has only become more relevant since its classic first edition. getAbstract recommends this eye-opening guide to any manager willing to take the challenging steps toward creating a healthier workplace environment.

About the Authors

Kathleen D. Ryan, co-producer of the film, The Workplace Hustle, is a principal at a major consulting firm. Daniel K. Oestreich leads an organizational development consulting firm. Together, they also wrote The Courageous Messenger: How to Successfully Speak Up at Work.



Spotting Fear

Fear is a natural part of the human experience. In the workplace, rational anxieties about urgent business or looming changes are typical aspects of everyday life. However, when fear inhibits people from speaking up about new ideas, concerns or frustrations, it harms organizations in significant, unseen ways. Fear may motivate short-term results, but it corrodes trust within a company and limits employees’ potential in the long term.

In many organizations, fear operates in the background; feared issues are off-limits for discussion. Seemingly minor fears take on symbolic, outsize proportions and spread rapidly. Employees mainly manifest fear in their reluctance to speak up – a silent protest – so assessing the extent of fear is difficult. Fear is an emotional reaction to a climate of mistrust, and driving it out of the workplace requires a sensitive balancing act. Eliminating all fear is likely impossible, but managers can notice fear, mitigate it and begin building trust in its place.

“Cycles of Mistrust”

Fear persists, even when managers recognize it as a problem, because the negative assumptions people hold about each other fuel cycles...

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

The Fearless Organization
Courage Goes to Work
Creating a Drama-Free Workplace
Women, Minorities, & Other Extraordinary People
Your Health at Work
Nudge Management

Related Channels

Comment on this summary