Before we hit the crisis I was witnessing how ‘leadership’ was sitting in a comfort zone, one that it had occupied for too long. Too many people seemed to be striving for the job title and pay-check versus truly understanding what leadership really meant. I wasn’t the only coach feeling this, at the end of last year, Simon Sinek discussed the crisis in leadership (I totally agreed).
Then, of course, the pandemic changed everything. The uncertainty that is now a daily experience in life and business is hugely challenging, and that’s unlikely to shift anytime soon. But, this new reality does have the potential to disrupt the way we lead for the better. Right now, leaders are waking up to the critical need for Courageous Leadership.
Over the next month I will be diving into the steps I believe leaders need to take to embody this, and how doing it will be transformative. Not only to their team’s success and, more importantly, to their and their team’s happiness. If you’re ready to take the first step, here it is. Jump right in.
What courage really means (spoiler alert: it’s not all bravery)
Ok, so let’s get back to basics. What does ‘courage’ mean to you?
If you are anything like me, the reality may be far from the notions you’ve fostered over the years. Growing up I believed courage wasn’t a word for me. I wasn’t She-ra or Catwomen, I was shy and quiet. In the media, courage was only ever portrayed as people who took risks, who were bold: this was soooo far from my introverted personality. But turns out that’s not courage, that’s just selling superhero films.
The Latin word for courage is ‘heart’. If only I had known this as a child! It turns out I had always had courage. This isn’t to say bravery and taking risks aren’t bound up in courage, but it is so much more than that. A truly courageous leader leads from within and achieves success with their team: they lead with heart.
What courage is and what it isn’t
The first big step you can take towards courageous leadership is building an awareness of what your current blockers to accessing your inner courage are. Take a few minutes to review this table, thinking particularly about your leadership style with your team in the last month.
How often did you find yourself nodding to the right-hand column? Whatever your response, don’t panic! Even though we can see the merits of the left-hand side, most of our default behaviour (especially under the pressured situations that a pandemic dictates) can push us into the other side.
Instead, I invite you to use this new awareness as an opportunity to grow. Pick one of the ideas from the ‘What courage isn’t’ that most resonated with you. Set an intention this week to choose the courageous alternative and to act upon it within your team. Be accountable to yourself and write it down. Hey, why not take it one step further and write it down in the comments - I’d love to hear from you.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be tackling ‘how to handle anything that comes your way’, ‘finding your voice’ and ‘what it means to show up 100% and courageously lead’.
“We desperately need more leaders who are committed to courageous, wholehearted leadership and who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear”.
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