Do you consider yourself a courageous leader? Most likely you’re operating within your comfort zone, fulfilling a specific role within your organization and community.
Hiding deep inside of you may be a reluctant leader who guides her organization and team with brave words and a veneer of confidence that hides how you really feel.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can replace the reluctant leader with confidence.
Even when you are not aware of it, your leadership style and personality permeate the organization you lead. Your team follows your leadership style, either seeking permission for every step they take or empowered and equipped to fulfill the vision which you are pursuing.
The first scenario creates a culture of fear, low performance, and ambiguity. The second scenario results in a culture where people are confident, goals are exceeded, and expectations are clear.
Two Problems all Leaders Face
We face two problems: allowing the expectations of others to create ambiguity (or clarity) for how we must lead, and our lack of understanding of what is required to drive people to achieve a goal or vision.
Practically speaking, the expectation of leadership creates an open loop in our minds. An open loop is an unresolved situation in which we know there is something at stake if we don’t act, but we don’t know what we must do to close the loop and resolve the situation.
You and I are best prepared to lead with excellence and confidence when we anticipate the level at which we’re expected to perform. We’ll rise to the level of expectation; a courageous leader will achieve that level and immediately ask, “What’s next?”
Instead of relying on the expectations of others to define our objectives and how we lead, you must own your leadership. The responsibilities of leadership are isolating, but they don’t have to be.
When you cultivate a culture of courageous leadership, you multiply the leaders around you who begin to share and practice the values and behaviors that turn your vision into reality. As long as your ego doesn’t get in the way, this approach has the potential to multiply the best of your leadership qualities and amplify the effectiveness of your leadership.
Communication is the Core of Courageous Leadership
Do you want to make a difference? You must share your vision for the difference you want to make in a way everybody understands. Boldly. Courageously. Confidently. People are drawn to clarity; do what you must to communicate clearly with focus and direction.
You need to have an oversized belief in your purpose, in the why that guides you. You need to believe that what you are on a mission to do is the most essential thing in the world.
Purpose informs your character; character creates the personality of your culture; all of these qualities combine to form your leadership voice that people follow.
Real impact is about the success of the people you serve — their stories and their impact on business and the economy, education, entrepreneurship, economic development, health and wellness, sustainability, philanthropy, the arts — the fabric of our culture.
Four Qualities of a Courageous Leader
Courageous leaders begin with curiosity:
- Seeing the world for how it could be instead of accepting it for what it is.
- Asking “What if?” and listening for the answers.
- Moving beyond, “How does this work?”, to “Why does this have to work that way?”
- Asking yourself, “What is my calling?” and pursuing that call relentlessly.
Courageous leaders respond to the challenge:
- The challenge to follow a different path that requires a change in direction.
- Realizing that leadership for change can’t happen with inspiring people to follow.
- By saying “Let’s fix this problem” when others say, “It can’t be done.”
Courageous leaders seek clarity:
- For clear understanding and awareness of the direction they must follow to create the greatest impact
- To define the problem before seeking a solution.
- To focus on the purpose and vision to which they are called.
Courageous leaders proceed with confidence:
- In the purpose that guides them, the vision to which they aspire, and the impact they make every day.
- With unwavering belief for the cause in which they believe, with a passion that guides the pursuit of their vision and drives their efforts to achieve it.
Courageous leaders are fearless and resilient, overcoming every challenge to lead the movement to make their vision a reality.
If you are courageous—not because of your calling—but because you believe your purpose is higher than the challenge to which you are called, you’ll draw upon a deeper well of courage that what you find within yourself.
Leadership is not only a matter of how to communicate courage but a matter of communicating with courage.
Colin Powell stated, “Leaders inspire people to reach beyond themselves.” Courageous leaders dream big and have the courage to adapt and change to make their dreams a reality.
Courageous leaders are fearless and resilient, overcoming every challenge to lead people to make a shared vision a reality.
People are looking for a leader to follow and a cause in which to believe. What will it take for you to be the courageous leader who inspires people to reach beyond themselves?