It has been said that to be courageous, one must possess optimism, passion, realism and the ability to take action.
Business today requires a significant amount of courage – more so than ever before – the importance of courage is especially relevant now. Leaders (as well as team leads & managers) are facing a new reality – a world that feels like white water rafting. Who knows what will be coming around the next bend and is it even possible to accurately predict it?
The world has become increasingly uncertain. There is a definite need for decisions to be made at a much faster pace and often when there are confusing lines of responsibility. Interpersonal conflicts or challenges can add complexity as well as outrageous and/or contradictory demands being made on the business. Undoubtedly, people must muster up all of their courage to succeed – every day and at every level. No longer is it acceptable to simply sit back and follow the status quo.
Guest blogger Judy Mackenzie, of TEVO Consulting Inc. , provides insight on the subject of Leadership Courage. She is a respected business coach, published author and one of the contributors to the Linked 2 Leadership Blog.
Have you heard this term before? It is one of my favourites from a leadership perspective.
Leadership courage is a learnable competency that is in great demand, yet I often find myself coaching to this area because business schools don’t teach the steps to leadership courage.
“Leadership courage is so very teachable and so very necessary for leaders to be successful and enjoy their jobs.”
Lacking Leadership Courage
Let me describe what it looks like when you don’t have it.
- Unwilling to take a strong stand when one is required.
- Can’t give tough feedback, would prefer someone else do it or use an email to deliver the message.
- Gets overly anxious about presenting a tough position.
- Unwilling to step up to issues.
- Let’s other people take the lead with the hope that they will not make a mistake or be challenged.
- Is overly differential to authority.
- Is a conflict-avoider and not willing to take the heat when necessary
- Very afraid to make a tough call.
Does this sound like anyone you know? How do so many managers with this issue get promoted? I suspect that leadership programs that are not action learning-based do not give the coaching support that is necessary to change this type of deep behaviour concerns.
There is also the danger of promoting leaders because of their technical skills and not their demonstrated leadership skills. Why don’t they teach this stuff in school?
Think About This
Think about the past few years and all the business challenges we have had from an economic meltdown and imagine how often managerial courage was needed to get you through the day with integrity and honesty.
Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories about how managers hid out in their offices, stop talking when they should have started, and spent way too much time worrying about issues that should have been dealt with. Much of the leadership coaching that I do focuses on strengthening this competency and being very mindful of not overusing it.
All good things must be done in moderation and leadership courage is no exception. When this skill is overused it becomes very problematic and can look like this;
- Overly critical with little to no praise or positive feedback.
- “Bull in a China Shop” syndrome. You say what is on your mind regardless of how it might impact the listener(s).
- You take on every battle rather than choosing carefully your areas on which to focus.
- Always looking at the negative side.
See what I mean, when the strength becomes the weakness?
Make Sure of This
Now for a few ideas to work on while you are assessing your own managerial courage.
- When you have a tough conversation to your future, prepare, prepare and prepare.
- Make your points very succinctly and do not deviate from your plan.
- Make sure you know exactly what the message is and ensure that you have your details clear.
- Remember if it is tough for you to say it will be tough for someone to hear, so don’t go into too much detail.
- Make your point and do it without drama, anger, or condescension.
- Leadership courage looks for solutions not destruction, so be sensitive without being distracted and confused.
- Make sure you plan. Planning will help greatly with that.
Don’t Be Frightened
When there is an issue that generally gets you into turtle mode, ask yourself the following questions.
What about this issue bothers me?
- What is the best/worst thing that can happen?
- When you answer what the worst thing that can happen is, has that ever occurred or is this part of your fear that is not based on experience?
- How would having this conversation make you feel?
- Think about a time you did deal with an issue and nothing bad happened. What did you do and how did you prepare?
- Can you do this again?
Be Open to Learn
Most of my clients realize after some initial exploring that they have been successful in most areas at some point in their lives. But, unfortunately, fear has a tendency to wipe out memories of success by devouring the good. To combat this, ask yourself good questions and be open to learn.
“Leadership courage is a great place to start as the payoffs are immediate!”
Janis Adds – Managerial Courage is an important quality in business. Take a listen to how Managerial Courage can be applied to improve your effectiveness.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Judy Mackenzie, MBA, CHRP, CEC PCC, owns and operates TEVO Consulting Inc. for small and medium sized businesses and The Champion’s Mindset, focused on personal development. She is also the author of “Women Rock the Business World – A Planning Guide for Women Entrepreneurs“.
TEVO’s mission is to assist companies in reaching their strategic goals by developing leadership and people management systems that allow employees to be at their best. Judy believes engaged employees are fundamental to business success, and she designs support and management systems to help people and companies achieve their full potential.