A Leader with Courage Encourages his team.
In today’s competitive environment, you need courage to build a business and earn handsome profits.
Throughout the ages, people have searched for an exact list of ingredients that constitute great leadership. Great leaders are said to demonstrate bold but reasoned judgment, spirited but calculated risk-taking and an assertive but reflective disposition!
Complicating matters is the expectations and needs of those being led. Followers want leaders who make decisions decisively but inclusively, interpret situations with rational and emotional intelligence and exude confidence and humility.
“Crikey, where do I start?” I hear you ask. I believe you start with one virtue, courage.
Aristotle called courage the first virtue, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. In addition to being the most important human virtue, it is the most important business virtue, as well. Think about it: Other important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales wither in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales requires being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales takes courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.
In today’s competitive environment, you need to have superhuman attributes and courage to build a business and earn handsome profits. With the constantly changing dynamics of the economy, it requires a considerable amount of courage to battle all the urgent changes within the market, while trying to keep your company stable against the strange tides of the industry.
Contrary to popular belief, courage is a teachable and learnable skill, and most everyone has the capacity to be courageous.
If you want to see more courageous action by your people, consider whether first YOU possess the 10 traits of courageous leaders:
- Confront reality head-on.
Face the facts about the state of your organization and business. Only by knowing the true current state can you lead your team to a better place.
- Seek feedback and listen.
We all have blind spots that impact the way we interact with others. Unfiltered 360-degree feedback is not always easy to hear, but it can breathe new life into your relationships and leadership style if you listen and act.
- Say what needs to be said.
Real conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially if conflict is involved. Having crucial conversations helps cut through the smoke and move through issues. This also means having the courage to put your opinions on the table, even if they are unpopular.
- Encourage push-back.
Many leaders feel pressure to have all the answers. By encouraging constructive dissent and healthy debate, you reinforce the strength of the team and demonstrate that in the tension of diverse opinions lies a better answer.
- Take action on performance issues.
Confronting people issues is hard, which is why so many leaders ignore them until they become a toxic threat to the team or company’s performance. By taking swift action to reassign or exit underperforming employees, you are helping yourself, the team and organization.
- Communicate openly and frequently.
Keep the lines of communication open, even when you don’t know all the answers. Courageous leaders refuse to hide behind jargon and wiggle-words – they use straight-talk and are not afraid to say “I don’t know.” They also share information instead of hoarding it.
- Lead change.
In fear-based environments, it’s all about protecting the status quo. Envision a better way, a better solution, a better product – and approach it with determination and an open mind, knowing that it will be messy and that a mid-course correction may be necessary. Remember that you need to bring people along the change process for them to truly engage.
- Make decisions and move forward.
Especially in environments of fear and intense change, it feels unsafe to commit to a decision and move ahead. Avoid the crutch of ‘analysis paralysis’ and make the decision. Forward movement is always better than being stuck in place.
- Give credit to others.
Let go of the need for praise and instead give the credit to those around you. At first it feels scary – will I be rendered irrelevant or unnecessary if my people are doing all the good stuff? Remember that a good leader takes more than their fair share of the blame and less than their fair share of the credit.
- Hold people (and yourself) accountable.
Expect people to perform and deliver on their commitments, and have courage to call them out when they don’t follow through. Remember that accountability begins with you – holding yourself responsible for modelling the behaviours you expect of others.
The most important lesson my clients have taught me is that the entire workforce wins when everyone shows up to work each day with more courage. With less fear and more courage, workers take on harder projects, deal better with change and speak up more willingly about important issues. In short, courageous workers try more, trust more and tell more. As a business leader and entrepreneur, your job is to put courage inside of people— to encourage them.
I had the great fortune to go to Atlanta in 2015 for some training with the Worlds Number One Executive Coach, Marshall Goldsmith.
Watch this short entertaining Video Review of his great book, “What got you here won’t get you there!”