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3 essential steps to become a courageous leader

Do you have the courage to make the decisions you need to? How often do you or other leaders in your business hold back progress by avoiding taking necessary action?

Contemplate for a moment the ways in which your role or business call for courage from you. When are you required to be courageous in order to get the job done? Successfully building a business and facing the challenges that inevitably arise, unquestionably takes courage, not only from the CEO but every member of the leadership team.

For many of the leaders I work with, finding and acting with courage is a daily demand. The strength of their belief and determination ultimately determines success. To what extent do you allow fears and limiting beliefs to hold you and your team back from achieving your potential? Do you find yourself avoiding making necessary decisions or delaying taking action?

3 essential steps you can take to build courage in your leadership

  1. Choose to live with courage
  2. Courageous action starts with making courageous choices. First choose to never allow a lack of courage to hold you back from doing what you need to.

    ‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.’ — Anaïs Nin

    Choose to have self-belief, including in your ability to conquer fears and find solutions.

  3. Understand you
  4. Reflect on the choices you typically make when confronted with circumstances you find difficult. Observe the thoughts and emotions that influence the depth of courage you feel and actions you ultimately take. Identify and take steps to develop the skills you need to take a more proactive approach.

  5. Confront fears
  6. See your own fears and challenge those that undermine your confidence. Recognise when unfounded fears hold you back and choose to act. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

8 courageous choices make a team thrive

  1. Confront reality
  2. The first step toward creating any outcome you want is facing the truth about your circumstances. Only with full and honest insight to the facts can you begin to formulate the strategies and take the steps towards succeed.

  3. Make tough decisions
  4. Avoiding tough decisions is among the most common reasons senior leaders give for feeling stressed and unhappy at work. Just as common is for staff to complain about leaders who fail to make necessary decisions and take action. Remember change can’t happen until you decide to make it so.

  5. Have belief
  6. Having the courage to make tough decisions, including to explore unchartered territory, takes belief in why you are doing what you are choosing to. Focus on the end game; the outcomes you are ultimately striving to achieve and why the decisions you are faced with matter as much as they do.

  7. Stay the course
  8. Leading with courage demands strength of conviction to keep making courageous choices in the face of challenge or resistance. Recognise when doubts begin to creep in and erode your resolve to keep moving forward. Remain open to new information and ideas but challenge limiting beliefs and fears that undermine confidence.

  9. Listen and learn 
  10. It can be undeniably confronting to receive constructive feedback. For many that is especially true of feedback from staff and peers. Having the courage to listen to what people say about what is working and what needs to change is essential to any leader’s ability to earn trust and respect as well as grow.

  11. Say what needs to be said  
  12. Building dynamic workplace cultures and high-performing teams takes engaging in honest, authentic and, at times, emotionally confronting conversations. Overcome hesitation by focusing on your duty to ‘do the right thing’. Understand that the truth is a gift of opportunity we give people to understand their reality and take necessary steps to succeed.

  13. Encourage challenge and debate 
  14. Avoid the belief that as the leader you need to have the answers and be right the first time. Encourage every member of your team to challenge your ideas, decisions and actions if they see a better way forward. Recognise that in the tension of diverse opinions may well lie a better solution.

  15. Have integrity 
  16. All too often leaders avoid dealing with people issues. Finding the courage to do so however is a matter of integrity. Fulfilling your duty to your team and organisation demands you overcome fears and find the courage needed to do your job. As American civil rights activist Dr Maya Angelou said “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”

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