As a leaders, we must find the courage to act on our convictions and what we believe it will take to succeed. That’s easy to say - but not always easy to do.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness and ability to proceed in spite of fear.
So, exactly how can we be more courageous and develop the ability to move forward in spite of our fears?
The 3 C’s I’ve shared in previous weeks each help to bring courage within reach and make it easier for us to take action. Here’s a quick reminder:
Clarity - Getting clear about our current situation, what we want instead, and most importantly, ‘The Why’ behind our goals, all make it easier for us and others to act on what’s important now.
Certainty - By focusing on what you can control, getting more information to guide decisions, having a Plan-B, communicating effectively, and being adaptable, you can reduce uncertainty and the stress it causes in any situation.
Confidence - Self-belief is the foundation of confidence. When we have faith in our abilities, we feel more capable of handling whatever challenges come our way. Clarity and certainty both contribute to confidence. By focusing on our strengths, challenging negative self-talk, and taking action, we can cultivate self-belief and become more confident and successful leaders.
Like pieces of a puzzle, these fit together to transform what may have seemed like a risky proposition into something that’s you’re ready, willing and able to take on.
But what else builds courage? What other traits can we develop to tackle tough conversations and lead courageously when necessary?
Here are three more tips that will help us act with courage along our leadership journey:
Wait… What??? Isn’t vulnerability a sign of weakness?
Quite the opposite. Rather than hiding vulnerability, be open about fears, uncertainties, and imperfections.
It doesn’t mean we’re flawed. Vulnerability allows us to show that we're human and we too, face challenges. It fosters trust, creates connections, encourages authenticity within our teams, and makes us more relatable and approachable as a leader.
Action Item: The next time you're faced with a difficult situation or decision, share your thought process with your team. Be honest about your concerns and uncertainties, and encourage open dialogue. This will not only help you gain valuable insights from your team, but it will also strengthen your relationships and create a supportive environment.
Resilience is the willingness and ability to bounce back from adversity and overcome challenges.
Courageous leaders are resilient – they don't let setbacks define them, but rather, they learn from their experiences and grow stronger. And help others to become resilient as well.
Building resilience requires having a growth mindset, focusing on solutions, and having a support network that can provide perspective and encouragement to get back up and succeed..
Action Item: Reflect on a recent setback or challenge you've faced and overcame to achieve progress. If you don't have a great one yourself, look for examples of resilience and success from other leaders. What lessons and inspiration can we learn from those examples? And how can we apply those lessons to future challenges? Just knowing that we can and will bounce back to overcome adversity will help us to lead with courage.
Develop a Bias for Action:
Courageous leaders are not paralyzed by fear or indecision; they are willing to take calculated risks and make decisions even in the face of uncertainty. By cultivating a bias for action, you demonstrate to your team that progress is more important than perfection, and that taking action is the key to overcoming challenges and achieving goals.
Newton’s 1st Law of Motion comes to mind here: “A body at rest remains at rest, while a body in motion remains in motion, unless acted upon by a force.” Now, replace “body” with “leader” and you get the idea.
Action Item: When faced with a difficult decision or situation, get clear about the potential risks and benefits. Then make a decision based on the information available.
Encourage your team members to do the same and support them in taking action.
Emphasize the value of learning through experience and adjust your course as needed based on the outcomes of your actions.
Courage is an essential trait for effective leadership.
By embracing vulnerability, building resilience, and developing a bias for action, you'll be well-equipped to face challenges head-on and inspire your team to do the same.
Remember, it's not about the absence of fear but rather, the ability to move forward despite it.
The courage to lead will not only help you achieve your goals but also empower your team to reach new heights.
So, take the first step today and commit to leading with courage in all aspects of your life.
Your team, your organization, and your future self will thank you for it.