Leadership – 10 ways to demonstrate courage

Being an effective leader is not just about success of a business, or team members loving you for your vision and style.

Leadership is about courage. Courage to challenge the status quo, courage to have a vision and courage to have humility to admit mistakes and ask for help.

An effective leader using transformational influence rather than transactional or positional power. This means developing effective relationships first so that people will believe in the leader and choose to participate and work together to achieve amazing outcomes.

Many great leaders demonstrate bold but reasoned judgment, spirited but calculated risk-taking and an assertive but reflective mindset. It is easy to say but often sometimes very difficult to put in place as a busy leader with often conflicting priorities and time constraints.

If you remove courage from a leader then all the rest; innovation, organisational design, sales and innovation will all lose their effectiveness.

But what do you do if you have tried but things just don’t seem to be going how you planned them?

Here are 10 simple ways to demonstrate courage to become a better leader.

  1. Challenge to Make Decisions

Being an effective leader means making bold and sometimes unpopular decisions. If a decision is unpopular it needs to be communicated exceptionally well including the reasons for making the decision so that the rest of the team can understand the reasons and are not just being told the decision. Leadership takes courage.

  1. Innovation and Vision

In fear-based workplaces, the focus becomes on protecting the way it’s always been done.  Challenge to create a better way, solution, or product – and then have an open mind in dealing with the how for implementation. Remember that you need to bring people along the change process for them to truly engage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage.

  1. Humility

A leader needs to be fearless and face the truth about the state of the workplace and business. Only by acknowledging the current state can a leader effectively move everyone to a better structure, workplace and business model. Open communication is absolutely crucial.  Courageous leaders show vulnerability and openness including not being afraid to say “I don’t know.”  When leaders admit to not knowing everything and ask for help, all the workplace relationships grow stronger and more respectful including encouraging open sharing of information. Humility takes courage.

  1. Responsibility

Taking responsibility, making a decision and then moving forward is a crucial behavioural trait of an effective leader. In a volatile environment of change, it can feel risky to commit to a decision and move ahead however making the decision and taking responsibility is crucial for a leader. Avoid the situation of over analysing and ‘delegation paralysis’ and make the ethical and courageous decision. Being responsible and ethical takes courage.

  1. Follow Through (Even When Difficult)

Confronting difficult issues and following through with decisions is sometimes hard. People issues are often approaches as even harder. Some leaders ignore them until they become a toxic threat to the team or business performance. By taking swift action to manage underperforming employees or programs, you are helping yourself, the team and business. Having confronting performance discussions takes courage.

  1. Discuss Don’t Dictate

Many leaders feel pressure to identify, develop and implement all the answers. By encouraging open dialogue, ideas and the ability to question decisions, an effective leader will reinforce the strength of the individual and the team. Encouraging, debating and accepting diverse opinions takes courage.

  1. Understanding Your Leadership Shadow

A leader will create a shadow from their behaviour and actions. This is often from the non-verbal behaviour they exhibit and is particularly strong if it’s different from the verbal messaging they are saying. Often the reason leaders find it hard to get inspired or committed performance from their teams is that their shadow gets in the way. An effective and emotionally intelligent leader will regularly identify the following

  • What do I say?
  • How do I act?
  • What do I prioritise?
  • How do I measure success or failure?

Being emotionally aware of your influence and behaviour takes courage.

  1. Be Friendly, Not Familiar

A challenging component of leadership is creating a culture or atmosphere in which the organisation and its leaders have a clear vision and sense of what a culture of dignity and respect would be like in practice. As a leader be friendly, firm and fair but do not cross the line by becoming familiar. Being accountable and modelling the behaviour you expect of others takes courage.

  1. Bring Out the Best In Others

Its imperative as a leader that you differentiate between the actions of giving praise and instead give the credit to those around you.  Having a genuine and selfless approach will be acknowledged by those around you and people will respond positively to this authentic feedback. A good leader usually takes more share of the blame and less of the credit. It takes courage to put others first in the team and organisation.

  1. Coaching for Courage

Not every leader is naturally courageous. However, everyone has the capacity for courage as it is a teachable and learnable skill. At Citron Consulting, we implement a program that uses a three-stage coaching approach to building courageous leadership. They are:

Risk courage: The courage of engaging with risk and using initiative and action.

Letting Go courage: The courage of having confidence, letting go of the need to control and building faith in others.

Openness courage: The courage to be open and vulnerable by raising difficult issues, providing tough feedback and sharing unpopular opinions.

We know that when leaders and employees all implement more courage that there is less fear in the workplace. With less fear and more courage, employees try more, achieve more, trust more and tell more.

If you need assistance we can provide a one-on-one executive coaching program or group leadership development training. Please contact us at enquiries@citronconsulting.com.au

Simone Ey

About Simone Ey

Simone Ey is the Managing Director at Citron Consulting and possesses over 20 years of human resources, organizational development and education experience. Simone’s expertise includes HR strategy including workforce optimisation, change management, organisational development, capability development, performance management and leadership coaching. Simone holds a Diploma of Business, Bachelor of Business degree in Human Resources and Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Education. Simone is a Certified Professional member of the Australian Institute of Human Resources.

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