Courageous leadership is a choice, and if there is one thing leaders from around the world agree on, it’s the need for more courageous leaders. Courage is not easy, but it’s something we all have the capacity for.
Courageous leadership is not exclusive to certain individuals. Courage is a muscle one must exercise regularly, one decision at a time. It’s a critical practice that differentiates the most effective leaders from the rest.
If you want to be the kind of leader who inspires, motivates and guides their teams, units and organizations through good times and bad effectively and with grace, you need to locate and nurture the seeds of courage that lie within you.
Attitude is the name of the game. Courage is a mindset that requires truth and determination. As Brene Brown says, “It’s choosing courage over comfort.” Courage is what moves us to action in tough times by invoking our core values. Values are the driving force behind our behavior. Tough times allow us the opportunity to get clear about our values and live them through daily action.
When a leader models courage through daily action, others will follow suit. Courage is contagious. This is important because courage is a fundamental building block to success and an essential element of psychological safety.
Curiosity, creativity, intuition and innovation are only accessible in the brain when a sense of safety exists – the very skills leaders need to navigate through chaos. Courageous leaders understand these forms of excellence are a way of moving the collective mindset from the bottom of the survival pyramid to the top of the pyramid of critical thinking, where creativity happens.
Clear messaging, on the part of the leader, also has an essential effect on the collective mindset by motivating individuals to stay the course even when the end is not clear. There is no room for reactive messaging. Reactive behavior is not courage; it’s an unhealthy coping strategy, grounded in the core instinct for survival that fosters fear and perpetuates chaos.
In business, courage seldom represents life-or-death situations, but that’s not to say it does not take courage to master the big problems, as well as the simple everyday challenges every leader faces. The most effective leaders exhibit courage in small, meaningful ways daily by encouraging calculated risk, sharing the big picture, demonstrating a willingness to be appropriately vulnerable, exhibiting empathy and owning what they experience.
Courageous leaders push through uncomfortable situations. They can look at data, trust their gut and make decisions even when it goes against the grain of popularity. They are people who can sift the opportunity from the crisis. They recognize the north star and check regularly to make sure they are guiding their teams, units and organizations in that direction.
We all have the capacity to be courageous leaders. Courage is a choice. Which will you choose, comfort or courage?
Jennifer Zach is a national coach, speaker and trainer who resides in the Corridor. www.jennifer-zach.com