The Courageous Leader
Leadership takes many forms and requires many skills, but there is one foundational skill that is the basis upon which every great leader relies. Courage is the key to great leadership and one that needs to be mastered in order to become a great leader. The good news is that courage is undoubtedly a skill that can be developed, and is much the same as a muscle memory; the more it is exercised and practiced, the more natural it becomes.
Many people who have the ambition and desire to become great leaders often ignore courage, and focus on other more obvious skills such as sales, innovation, and management. However, take a step back and assess any additional business skill and it will quickly become apparent that courage is a key foundational component.
Being an impactful leader will require having the courage to swim against the tide, and speak up for not only what you believe in, but also speak up for your employees and what would be best for the company, even when it is an unpopular opinion. An influential leader needs to have the courage to empower their employees to speak up and challenge something they have dissonance with. If their leader does not portray courage, then employees will not either because they will not have an example of it instilled in management or the company for that matter. Not every decision made will be the right one, not every decision will inspire confidence within the team, but a leader who lacks the courage to make a decision or to empower their people may be in the wrong seat.
There are three types of courage that a leader needs to learn, develop, and practice on a daily basis.
The Courage To TRY – The first type of courage is that of trying.The Beatles were initially rejected at their Decca record audition. However, they did not allow this setback to destroy their ambitions and had the courage and confidence to keep trying. The rest, as they say, is history.
As a leader in any industry, but particularly a sales orientated industry, it is important to demonstrate and educate your team about having the courage to persevere, also known as resilience. Constant rejection can make sales very difficult and challenging, but the only way to become successful is to have the courage to push past the rejection, and move on to the next customer.
The Courage To TRUST – It doesn’t matter how great you are in your role in the company, you need to be able to delegate matters and trust that your team will exceed expectations. It takes a village to grow a company, and empowering others is part of that journey. Without courage, trust, or teamwork, you become a roadblock in your own business, preventing the company’s growth rather than masterminding it. Learn to listen to other people, have the confidence to be somewhat vulnerable, and have faith in your team’s abilities and instincts. A great leader does not have a monopoly on all of the decisions within a business. If you’ve chosen your team well and prepared them thoroughly, the courage and trust to let go at certain times shouldn’t be hard to come by.
The Courage To SPEAK OUT – As a leader, there will be times when difficult choices and decisions have to be made. Perhaps someone is underperforming, or there is a downturn in business. At times, leaders need to publicly address errors and mistakes, but also give constructive criticism. Many leaders can find this a challenging task, but that is where the great leaders shine.
Becoming a great leader is a long and never-ending path that requires constant reevaluation, learning, and tough choices. Human beings are naturally inclined to shy away from problems and confrontation, to take the path of least resistance, to avoid confrontation, and consequently to avoid making tough decisions. That is what makes a courageous leader stand out. This article provides inspiration and ideas on how to become a courageous leader.
Never lose sight of where you want your company to go; focus on growing and developing your courage to benefit your employees and company. In many instances, the difference between good leaders and great leaders are those who demonstrate courage in every situation, regardless of how difficult a moment they found themselves in. Take this knowledge, embrace it and move forward to become the leader you want to be; the more you practice courage, the more natural the process becomes. As Winston Churchill noted, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”