Leading With Courage

The rewards that come with Authentically Leading people are many. While the tangible rewards are good it’s the intangible rewards that are great. The potential to have a life-long positive impact on the life of another person drives Authentic Leaders to expend a part of themselves in service to others. 

But Authentic Leadership is not without it’s challenges. 

Helping another person reach their full potential means Authentic Leaders will sometimes need to instigate difficult conversations. They cannot hide from occasional confrontations. They do not dump tough decisions on to other people. 

Many people in leadership positions lack the courage required to have those confrontational conversations. They believe they can hide from the consequences of tough decisions by not making them. 

Authentic Leaders possess the steadfast courage to have compassionate confrontational conversations. They do not shirk from their responsibility for making the tough decisions. The type of decisions that lessor leaders fail to make. 

So do you have the courage to Authentically Lead? Keep in mind that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is possessing the mental and morale strength to persevere. It’s taking action despite that fear. 

Authentic Leaders see their people as individuals, not mere assets or resources. They see them as people who they want to invest their time with. They do not see them as employees that they must spend time on developing. 

It is that “investment in people” mindset that helps them summon their courage when the need for difficult conversations arise. It is the knowledge that nearly every decision will have some type of impact on the people they lead. That is what pushes them to make and act on decisions as soon as they can. They know that not making a decision IS a decision and it’s almost always the wrong one. 

If your goal is to be an Authentic Leader then you must be willing to make wrong decisions at times. Every leader gets some decisions wrong. The most effective leaders get more decisions right than wrong. You must be willing to confront an underperforming team member. Allowing them to underutilize their strengths is a disservice to them. It can negatively impact your entire organization. When you think about it that way it may be a little easier to realize that you do in fact possess the courage to lead authentically. 

The only question that remains at that point is are you willing to invest your time and talents for the betterment of other people. If you are nothing can stop you. If you aren’t then you’ll never truly be a leader. 

Why Leaders Need Courage

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill 

The Roman historian Tacitus once said, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” Today we might translate that to something like “always playing it safe makes it much harder to succeed.” 

Leaders need courage to make decisions that followers won’t make. They need courage not to just steer the ship but to set it’s course, sometimes heading into completely uncharted territory. Leaders need courage to stand on principle when non-leaders will sacrifice those principles in order to compromise. Leaders need courage to do what’s right, not just what’s popular.

Leaders need courage to take risks.

Here is an interesting thought. Those who have the courage to take risks and those who don’t experience the same amount of fear in their life. It’s just that a leader understands that courage is not the lack of fear, it is doing what they are afraid to do.

Everyone experiences and is held back by fear from time to time. Leaders find a way to overcome their fear and more forward more times than not.

When someone shows courage it encourages people but when a leader shows courage it inspires people. It inspires people to commit to the leader and that’s a very good thing. If your people see you always doing what’s safe they will follow that lead, they will always play it safe too and when they do growth is stopped dead in it’s tracks.

You probably won’t like this but I’m going to write it anyway….if you never feel fear then it’s likely you have retreated so far into your comfort zone that you’ve stopped growing. That almost certainly means that you’ve stopped leading too.

If you haven’t experienced fear in a while then now is the time. Go out and do something, anything worthwhile, that tests your courage just for the sake of growing in courage. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you face a genuine fear. 

If you call yourself a leader and you want your people to grow then you had better be growing too. Growth requires change and change often means risk. Consistently successful leaders have the courage to accept those risks in order to grow.

Do you have the courage to succeed as a leader?