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How to Remove the Courage From a Courageous Employee

For the past few years, we have been working in lock step with a Japanese electronics company who, on the surface, has been perfectly positioned to continue their streak of reporting record quarterly losses. But then FEAR Incorporated noticed a troublesome issue that had the potential to derail the client’s mission of using fear to fail efficiently. The electronics company was suffering from a growing number of young employees who fearlessly approached every day as a fresh opportunity to help grow the organization. Our experience has taught us that if these mavericks are not dealt with the moment they are noticed, they will become a very real problem for management.

When we called an emergency board meeting to discuss the issue, a few members suggested solving the problem by just terminating the trouble makers. While we did admire the hyper-efficiency of our Japanese brethren, we warned them that those kinds of actions will leave leadership exposed to external pressures and they will have a hard time explaining themselves. This is because the current business culture unfortunately listens very closely to the booming microphone of the masses who use hurtful social media platforms like Twitter, Fishbowl, LinkedIn and Glassdoor to influence how a company is staffed. So, our solution to ridding the hallways of these glass-have-full vermin needed a more delicate hand.

The plan began with an officewide announcement of the creation of a “special taskforce” that would be given a job so crucial to the success of the company, only the bravest of employees need apply. The brilliance of this scheme is that it strategically uses the courageous worker’s nauseating self-confidence against them. In a matter of hours, we had assembled the audacious group and told them the project they were about to lead was coming straight from the CEO. This pumped up their ego making them believe they were the only ones to pull off something of this magnitude. We named the taskforce, “Good to Great”. But anything nebulous that sounds incredibly important to the future of the company, yet cannot be defined, will do. (For example, a client in the automotive sector had great success in calling their team “The Next Decade of Electric”.) We then gave them the space to build their own elite team. This part of the effort drew out all the hidden mavericks, exposing anyone leadership had not earmarked as a problematic brave employee. Then just as the team dove into “solving the problems of the future”, we introduced an infinite loop of check-ins and approvals.

Working with management, we set up a schedule that had the special taskforce continuously meeting and presenting their “solutions” to an endless list of executives. With each meeting, we moved the goal posts ever so slightly by adding or subtracting a request. Then, all the leadership team had to do was sit back and enjoy the show as the self-proclaimed elite team endlessly spun in circles attempting to conquer the unconquerable. While they traveled their path to nowhere, the fearless group unwittingly wore down the sharp edges of their abilities, developing the fear that they might not be smart enough to come up with a solution. It only took a few months of these cycles for them to be stripped of their individual sense of courage and develop an unquenchable thirst for the leadership’s approval. When the taskforce finally came forward with a solution for the future of the company that was toothless as well as harmless to the leaderships agenda to fail, we told them they had solved it. Then we celebrated their mediocrity with champagne and cake. Toasting the once courageous, self-confident, strong-willed stallions, and how they were unknowingly castrated and turned into well-behaved, approval seeking, easy to control geldings. As the year came to a close, the company had finally eradicated the remaining courage from their workforce and were back on course for a future of undisturbed quarterly losses.

If you would like to learn more about how FEAR can help you exterminate courage from every corner of your organization, please reach out to our chief fear officer at

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