One of the most memorable scenes in movie history reminds us that some attributes of character that may not be innate may be acquired. In the case of courage, this is an essential acquisition. The sooner the better!
What does a courageous leader look like and how can we become one?
One well known leadership writer said you wouldn’t need courage if the things you were facing weren’t scary to begin with. In fact, we need to embrace and face our challenges in order to grow courageous.
A Courageous leader leads from the “inside out”
Up until the 80s most management theory focused on external behaviors that helped leaders manipulate the people around them to get the results or productivity they were looking for. Dale Carnegie’s famous book from 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is still popular today. The dichotomy between one’s public and private self have become so well accepted in the business world and other sectors of power that the transparent leader in business is both a marvel and an anomaly.
Becoming courageous – Take a personality assessment, learn your behavioral style, solicit and accept feedback from others. Dedicate a whole season to understanding and analyzing both what makes you tick and the impact of your default behaviors and reactions to the people around you. Author and church leadership expert Pete Scazzero says, “As the leader goes, so goes the church” [fill in your own place of influence, i.e. company, staff team, etc.] Face the ugly truth. It can be the best thing to happen to you and your organization in the long run. If you can face the truth about yourself, your real motives, your mistakes – you can face anything!
A courageous leader chooses the right thing over the popular thing
Is there a truth you are holding that may burn within but you can’t bear to speak up about? NASA scientists who tried to warn about the potentials for disaster if the space shuttle Challenger was launched in sub freezing temperatures were silenced by higher ups who feared the wrath of the office of the President more than the likelihood of the loss of life for the astronauts in peril.
Astronomer and Scientist Galileo Galilei, who chose to challenge the views of the powerful Holy Roman Catholic Church by agreeing with Copernicus that the sun was the center of the (known) universe, rather than the earth said this: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”— Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina
Becoming courageous –The knowledge of the universe we take for granted, including the discovery of the telescope, came a a great cost to a man who put truth over the prevailing opinions. Write a list of things that you know would improve productivity among your staff, debug a system, or help a team get :”un-stuck”. Then write down the reason you have been sitting on this knowledge. There is no better time to speak up than now.
Coming soon: Part 2 – More traits of courageous leaders