Empower Your Leadership With Courage

Leadership Trait Series 2_CourageWhen you think of the word courage, what comes to mind? Most people will say “fearless.” Yet “courage” actually has Latin roots in the word “heart,” which tells us that at its core, courage is literally more about heart than fear. In fact, as a leader, there probably have been times when you’ve felt courageous yet also been fearful. Still, you likely made decisions and took action in spite of the fear. Great leaders push beyond what’s comfortable or convenient and use the heart to inspire their willpower to move beyond fear and become courageous. What’s more, disciplined leaders often create legacies based on this courage, specifically their razor-sharp skills in calling upon and using it, when it matters most.

Here are three ways to cultivate courage in yourself, your team and the organization at large:

1. Identify And Manage Your Fears

Even the most powerful, most revered leaders in history have had fears. Take stage fright, for example. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and many other respected leaders all had to face this fear to be effective communicators, which is a key leadership responsibility. If you’ve got fears (and most of us do) identify them. Make a list of your fears, determining what personal activities and work demands cause you the highest level of surface-level insecurities or even deeper emotional fears. Next, pick the top 20% of these fears that appear the most problematic to your leadership role and be proactive about addressing these fears. In the case of stage fright, you may consider joining a local chapter of Toastmasters International. Fear conflict? You may want to read books or do some training around effective conflict-resolution skills, building confidence or effective communication.

2. Nourish Courage In Others

Because fears are just part of human nature, those on your team will have their own set of fears, too. Acknowledging and understanding this will help you manage your perhaps unrealistic expectations of those on your team. But it can also give you an opportunity to provide support to team members who want to address and manage their fears. Going back to the example of public speaking, if you notice someone struggles in this area, give them tools, training, resources, etc., to help them push beyond this challenge and develop their skills and confidence. Not only is this empowering for them but it sends the message that you believe in your people and will help them, which is an excellent motivator for people who have the interest and willpower to improve.

3. Cultivate Courage Company-Wide

If you nourish courage among your teams and expect your managers to do this with their people, too, then the impact of these activities will likely become ingrained in your organization’s culture. People will begin to think more courageously and ask for help when they need it to overcome barriers, worries, fears, etc. Sustain this progress and momentum by recognizing and rewarding courage when you can. Notice when people could have fallen back into their comfort zone or done what’s easy or convenient—but didn’t. Celebrate courage, communicating with your organization when and why it happened, and it will grow and transform your culture into one that’s rooted in courage. 

​​Fill in the blanks: I conquered my fear of ______ by ______.

Leadership Trait Series Part 1 of 5: Equality - Empower Your Leadership With Fairness

Leadership Trait Series Part 2 of 5: Empower Your Leadership With Courage​

Leadership Trait Series Part 3 of 5: Empower Your Leadership With Empathy​

Leadership Trait Series Part 4 of 5: Empower Your Leadership With Creativity

Leadership Trait Series Part 5 of 5: Empower Your Leadership With Integrity

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