How to be (or become) a Courageous Leader
You may often hear people refer to someone as “a natural born leader” or “she’s or he’s the only one with the guts to lead.” However, I believe that true and courageous leaders aren’t born, they are made and created through real-life experiences, learning curves and being taught or mentored by other great, respected, and courageous leaders. So, what are courageous leaders? Some of the best leaders of the past and present define a courageous leader as the below.
“Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised.” – Walt Disney
“I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head.” – Princess Diana, Princess of Wales
“Leadership is hard to define, and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.” – Indra Nooyi (Former CEO, PepsiCo)
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter (Former First Lady of the United States)
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. … In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs
“Successful leaders have the courage to take action while others hesitate.” – John Maxwell
As we move forwards towards a post-pandemic future, and 2022 is close to knocking on our doors, more of our businesses and organisations are seeing the benefits of nurturing courageous, strong, and capable leaders. In fact, it’s become a top priority for many. Businesses and organisations across Australia, and the world, are now truly recognising that if you have a courageous and strong leader at the forefront of your organisation, you will reap the benefits including improved financial performance and higher employee attraction and retention. It is very clear to me, and many others, that we need future leaders and generations who will lead with courage.
How do we define courage? The official definition of courage means “The ability to do something that frightens. Bravery and strength in the face of pain or grief.”
As I mentioned at the top of this article, I believe that like any other leadership skills, courage is something that is refined over time and a skill that can only be learned by those willing to learn and better themselves. If you’re a leader, you may be reading this article and wondering if you possess the qualities needed to be a leader who leads with courage, or if your team or employees see you as a leader who is courageous and kind. The good news is you have taken the first step towards being a courageous leader.
Many leaders are embracing change, adapting to it and are now wanting to learn how to build themselves up as a courageous leader and take themselves forward to new directions of success, that will have a lasting impact on them, their team and the organisation as a whole.
Becoming a courageous leader is not something that happens overnight, it’s a gradual and ongoing process (that’s not without its rewards), because even as courageous leaders we can keep learning and improving ourselves. Even the greatest leaders continue to work on themselves and are focused on becoming better people and leaders every day.
This is why we came up with the Courage Intelligence (CQ) Model, Framework and Program, which also forms part of LeadershipHQ’s executive, emerging leaders, coaching and women in leadership programs. Because we wanted to transform the way everyone thinks about courage within leadership, and build skills as a courageous leader. To build, transform and inspire great leadership, teams, and companies across the globe.
How you can become a courageous leader using my Courage Intelligence (CQ) Model and Framework:
Authenticity – trust, principles, and values
Authenticity is one of the core aspects of courage intelligence because it focuses on trust, honesty, and high ethical standards. Being an authentic leader starts with you because living in line with your values and principals are the key to being authentic. They guide your choices and influence your decisions as a leader. Stick to your guns, be yourself and trust in yourself because showing up and being who you are authentically is courage.
Purpose – intent, emotion, and reason
Have you ever sat down and thought about your goals and your purpose as a leader and the reason behind it? Well, there’s no time like the present. Why not sit down and put together a list? Having a purpose will allow yourself to know how to better work and act. Think about the reasons and the why/emotions behind your courage. This will help you see clearer and organise yourself so you can truly set foot on your journey to becoming a courageous leader.
Impact – action, legacy, influence
Getting back up when you are knocked down is courage and embracing fear is courage. The impact you make as a leader and as a person matter. So, what sort of an impact do you want to make as a leader? What sort of a legacy do you want to create? How do you want to influence, motivate, drive, and encourage others to be leaders?
Grit – passion, perseverance, resilience
It takes guts, determination, pure grit, and courage to fight for what you believe in. This is the mark of a true leader, one who is passionate about what she or he believes in and won’t stop until they make their dreams a reality.
Empathy- kindness, connection, awareness
For me, empathy, kindness, connection, and awareness are vital to becoming a great leader. In today’s world, empathy has become a priority for great leaders. Having empathy and showing understanding to those who look up to you can help you get to the root of problems, understand the needs of others, appreciate those who work for you and develop professional relationships. In short, empathy matters, and you will be a better leader for it. LeadershipHQ is responding to an urgent need for the many leaders who are wanting to know how to develop courage by launching the Courage Intelligence Program to provide future focused leaders with an opportunity to build their courage as a skill.