How to Lead with Courage
Let’s first define courage from the dictionary: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.”
When we think of leaders, we might be tempted to think of courageous and heroic figures. The leader is the person at the vanguard of the army, leading the charge and taking the brunt of any enemy attacks.
Of course, this is not the reality for most of us. Most people will be managers where there is very little gunfire or charging. But are we truly leading with the courage to create action or leading our own business with a visionary purpose?
Often, individuals get stuck understanding that leading takes courage, authenticity, and true visionary mindset. This courage will take a different form.
Leading Through Action
The best leaders are action-takers. When we lead through action, we set a positive example for our team and inspire them to similarly take action. In this way, we avoid one of the worst traits that any leader can possess: hypocrisy.
There are few things that will inspire dissent in your ranks as quickly as being seen to be hypocritical.
It is important to indicate that you are in the trenches with them. Nobody likes being asked to do things because they feel that their superior is simply unwilling or understanding of what is being asked. You are in charge and with that comes responsibility. Simply giving the worst jobs to your team and not taking part in them yourself is an abuse of your power.
Leading through action also means being decisive. It means being able to quickly make a decision and be willing to commit to that action.
Many lesser leaders make the mistake of deferring or avoiding decision-making.
However, being indecisive is worse than making an unwise or incorrect decision. Being indecisive makes you seem weak. And while taking action can result in a negative outcome, delaying a decision will only ever have negative consequences. Being decisive is not always about getting it right, but the ability to make the call and take action on it. We live in a world of people who suffer from paralysis by analysis. Every successful leader has failed at one point, but they learn and keep trying.
Conversely, it’s nearly always inspiring to see someone who makes quick decisions and doesn’t doubt themselves. Decisiveness also builds confidence in your team members.
How is decisiveness a mark of courage?
Simply, it means that you’re willing to accept the responsibility that comes with the role of being a leader. It’s taking bold risks that go against the grain of their organizations to lead that revolutionary transformation and sticking to it.
Being a leader means taking responsibility for the team. It means protecting them, so they can do their best work. Letting go of control and having faith in those you lead.
It means making decisions and being willing to deal with the consequences. It’s only when we don’t want to look bad that we avoid making decisions… and that is ultimately a mark of cowardice.
Finally, being a courageous leader means that you take your lumps when things do go sour. If you make a mistake, it’s important to not only own up to it, but also stay calm and collected when you’re reprimanded by your own superiors, or when the organization risks collapsing.
Likewise, it’s crucial to remain calm in a crisis. That means setting a good example when things seem to be going wrong for the team. Prevent your team from going into a panic. Lead with facts, not emotions.
There are so many people who struggle with decision making despite how smart they are because they are led with their emotions instead of facts. Take the emotional side out of the process and evaluate what is needed to get to the outcome desired to pull through unexpected outcomes, crisis or failure.
How to Be the Hero They Need
Where does all this courage and stoicism come from? How can you acquire it if you don’t possess it naturally?
Does it mean trying to act tough?
Not at all.
Being a truly great leader comes from having the right priorities. It means forgetting yourself and, instead, focussing on the goals of your organization and the happiness and comfort of your team. When you do that, it’s easy to be a courageous leader.