Courageous Leadership: What is courageous leadership?

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Courageous leadership is facing the reality and danger head-on, having overcome the fear thereof, to lead and advance with calculated moves. It is providing your followers with constructive feedback regularly, no matter how uncomfortable some people might feel. 

Courageous leaders are a top priority in modern businesses and organizations. The Center for Creative Leadership research report on leadership talent experience confirms that courageous leadership leads to:

  • Enhanced financial performance
  • Greater employee attraction and low turnover
  • Successful navigation of organizational pivotal times
  • Higher ability to execute strategic objectives

The three buckets of courage

There are three buckets of courage in the workplace:

  1. Try courage

Try courage is the courage you need to take a pioneering step in anything. The courage to do something new. It’s the point when you’re all too aware that anything could go wrong- or incredibly right.

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  1. Trust courage

Trust courage is what you need to relinquish control. You require to lead with this courage for you to delegate duties to your followers. You show that you trust their abilities and can give them control over intricate matters that could have huge implications. You do not micromanage their desks and functionality.

  1. Tell courage

Tell courage is what you need to speak out openly about your stand, your beliefs, and your ideas. You’ll often find this very scary in business. 

What are the traits of courageous leadership?

The three buckets of courage help you take decisive and precise actions when facing challenges. Ultimately, you emerge as a stronger leader, along with your team and organization. But how do you apply it? You need to exercise these traits of courageous leaders:

  1. Claim your courage

You begin by deciding that you are not going to show cowardice in your leadership. Choose to lead courageously- no matter the obstacles. Do what’s difficult. Trod in unchartered paths if you must. Do it daily.

Keep asking yourself if you’re being courageous enough. You choose to strengthen the courage muscle by daily exercise.

  1. Do not be comfortable with comfort zones

Courageous leadership demands pushing through discomforts. You make difficult decisions and take responsibility when things get tough.

  1. Exhibit real vulnerability

Exhibit your human nature to your followers so that they can identify with you and their own experiences. Mistakes do occur at times and you show them that you are responsible and you clean messes up just like you expect them to. Do not suppress their self-esteem. Promote their sense of “mistakes do happen” rather than condemn them outright.

  1. Confronting reality head-on

You must understand your organization in full- including the culture, products, and vision. In case you fail to understand and correct wrongs, you risk losing valuable employees, clients, and your entire business.

  1. Seek feedback

Seeking feedback isn’t enough if you fail to act on what you gather. Unfiltered feedback often is difficult to consume. However, it could be crucial to stay afloat in turbulent times.

Employees and clients can differ feedback that could empower your organization and retain them if their thoughts and ideas get proper consideration.

You don’t have to apply or implement every suggestion. Courageous leaders peg their leadership not on ego but on guiding their teams and applying their suggestions whenever applicable.

 Always encourage constructive disagreements or criticism and healthy debates.

Reinforcing the strength of your teams and valuing their opinions encourages innovation, calculated risks, and creativity.

  1. Give real conversations in conflicts

It is hard to hold real conversations that openly and plainly point out thorny issues during times of conflict. Apply the three buckets of courage and do not fear to take an unpopular path if it’ll save the situation.

Do not like procrastination, festering, and brushing off issues. They become huge stumbling blocks later on. 

  1. Keep consistency about performance issues

People are hard to confront. Most leaders have fear confronting staff over performance. Toxic and underperforming employees identify such cowardice in their leaders and take advantage to cause greater trouble. They are the ones who quickly become a threat to your authority.

Reassigning employees, issuing disciplinary action, or entirely dismissing them must be done firmly and without fear. Taking action whenever issues arise helps your organization, your team, and yourself in the long run.

  1. Open communication

Clear up your communication lines and be accessible to your team. When you cannot avail of solutions, let everyone know that you are stuck. Welcome constructive opinions and ideas. Saying, “I don’t know” not a sin.

Don’t hoard ideas.  Create open lines at every business level.

  1. Learn to give credit

Courageous leadership is driven by empowering others through trusting them. Don’t seek self-praise. Instead, praise and reward others more.

Take more responsibility when blames comes, and give more credit to others when successes come along.

  1. Change direction appropriately

As a courageous leader, you must have discernment of the times and identify pivotal moments in time when your organization must change course.

The dynamics of today’s competition and changing technologies need a flexible leader who courageously leads their workforce even in unchartered territory.

  1. Showcase your talents

The ego must be left at the gate- but your exceptional talent is needed to boost the courage of your followers. It shows your competence and capability of steering them into success.

Your talents energize every stakeholder in the business process as it is a strong source of motivation.

When you can be depended on for effective performance, every team member wants to peg their development on you.

You must be a strong anchor. Only don’t grow proud and arrogant.

Final Thoughts

There are times when courage is the only trait that separates true leaders from hirelings. It calls for a courageous leader to quit and leave a toxic workplace if all their efforts to lead an organization in the best direction, is wasted. That is incredibly courageous.

Courageous leadership sets up the stage for progressive confidence and career advancement. Apply the tips we’ve discussed above and your team and industry will inevitably recognize you.


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