Being courageous does not mean being without fear. Being courageous is about moving forward despite challenges, obstacles and resistance. Courage is remaining steadfast and persevering through the consequences of decisions in pursuit of your vision.
Six Actions of Courageous Leaders
- Face Reality – too many changes, ideas or projects are implemented without a clear understanding of the current state. In Great by Choice, authors Collins and Hanson talk about Productive Paranoia as one component of their trifecta of 10x leadership. This involves remaining vigilantly aware of reality and being ready to respond. Courageous leaders must isolate reality from the noise around them and be prepared to take effective action. You cannot lead into the future if you do not know where you are starting from.
- Pay Attention – at all levels. Get feedback, have skip level meetings, meet with customers, talk with colleagues across your industry. Courageous leaders get input from many sources and pay attention across all levels of the organization.
- Have Difficult Conversations – this means communicating bad news as needed, holding others accountable and saying what needs to be said. Courageous leaders add and remove people who are unable or unwilling to be part of the mission. When a leader is unwilling to take action to address difficult situations they compromise the integrity of their leadership and risk significant loss of engagement from their team.
- Encourage Conflict – this doesn’t mean fighting or tension, this is about healthy debate and inclusion of multiple perspectives. Courageous leaders welcome different points of view and realize that the more constructive debate, the better the outcome. Courageous leaders do not need to be right, they want to get to the right answer. Constructive conflict leads to better answers.
- Self-discipline – be disciplined in your language, your decisions and your focus. Many organizations suffer from leaders that struggle to say no. Setting strategy or creating any kind of meaningful change is more about what you say “no” to than what you do. The discipline to remain committed to that strategy or change is the difference between mediocre and extraordinary success.
- Set High Standards – courageous leaders don’t settle for average. They set high standards. However, when the standards are not achieved, they acknowledge failures. When high standards are accomplished, they don’t take it for granted, they recognize and celebrate success. Through BOTH success and failure courageous leaders learn what to do more of and what to change.