1) The ability to disregard fear; 2) Bravery; 3) To have the courage to act on one’s beliefs.
Define courage as a selfless act to do what is right regardless of personal consequences. All manner of business, legal and moral dilemmas occur every day in corporations all over the world, and they are the essence of courage. They beg leadership questions as to what each of us would do in similar situations. The choice is between what is right and what is prescribed by prevailing legal wisdom to not admit personal responsibility.
Take a courageous stand to achieve extraordinary results. You cannot choose courage when it is convenient and then abandon its principles when it is not. People watch you make the ordinary, mundane decisions as much as they watch you make the extraordinary, high impact ones. Regrettably, many employees’ experience of leadership is spineless, as in “How little courage can we get away with?”
Step out from behind the insulation of your inner circle. When difficult messages have to be delivered, leaders go eyeball-to-eyeball with their workforce, taking the heat of controversial pressing questions. Courageous leaders value blunt honesty – always. Rather than dodge ‘bullets’ by hiding behind e-mails, they stand up to so-called hard-nosed employees. They also encourage the meek and silent.
Foster employees’ living according to inner truth. Do not hold organizational truth-tellers as “problem employees” because they refuse to be molded by constricted expectations. Rather than saddle them with “corrective measures”, seek out those who refuse to sidestep what needs to be said. Be grateful for employees who fearlessly point out, “the emperor is wearing no clothes.”
Know that real relationships are founded on being real. Withholding serves no one. Real relationships are not always about being ‘nice.’ Instead of “shooting the messenger”, welcome those who are gutsy enough to be candid, no matter how uncomfortable. Observe your reactions to the truth-tellers on your team, and notice to what degree you invite truth-telling from everyone around you – no matter what.
Take tough stands on behalf of the team. Do not be afraid to make yourself somewhat ‘dangerous’ in the world, if this is what it takes to ensure issues are not swept under the carpet. Be willing to incur unpopularity with your peers, if this is what it takes to support your team. Courageous leaders encourage their people to shine, and do what it takes to help them be successful.
Hold on when the dream appears to be slipping from grasp. The time to stand firm is when it would be far easier to say: “Who were we kidding? This is the way it’s always been and is the way it will always be. Who were we to think we could be any different?” Stay the course through challenging times. And, if you do decide to “fold your cards” rather than “hold” them, do it consciously.
Questions For Reflection
To what degree do you invite truth-telling around you and what truths are you most comfortable hearing?
What do you observe about your own reactions to the truth-tellers on your team, as opposed to those who hold back their opinions?
How can you incorporate the attributes of the most trustworthy and integrity-based person in your workplace into your own habits?