As leaders, we need to draw upon courage we don’t always feel or have. We are the guardians of our areas of influence, whether it is school, home, or volunteer work. It is our responsibility to respond to situations that may scare us a little bit; or a great deal.
It can be tough to make the hard decisions about people on our teams. Do we empower them to do the work before their skills are proven? Do we make the decision to terminate someone’s employment on a timely basis? Do we advocate for needed changes? And I am sure there are some of us who sometimes wonder: “What makes me capable of making such decisions?”
An effective leader feels the fear and acts anyway. That is demonstrating courage, even if you are the only one who knows you are feeling the fear.
How do you feel the fear and act anyway? Like any skill, it takes practice. Here are a few things you can do to develop your courage:
- Challenge the status quo. Doing things because that is the way they have always been done is not leading. Start by looking at the small things and practice examining why they are being done. Is there a value to it? Is there a more effective way? Invite others to explore the status quo. And when a decision has been made to implement change, follow-though with the diligence of a courageous leader. Once that muscle has been developed, move on to bigger things.
- Make the tough decisions regarding people. Practice putting your trust into unproven team members. Let them learn, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. It is brave to let go. Try it. Also… be brave in making decisions when a team member is not working out. Do not let a situation fester, as it will lead to longer-term issues. Deal with situations with compassion and empathy – in a timely manner.
- Be steadfast when others are wavering. It is a challenge to keep to the plan when others are not on board. When change is difficult, be the support and change agent that people look to for guidance, inspiration, or a simple smile to get them through. As new information is available, showing that your plan could change, acknowledge that you were operating with the information that was available at the time and make changes as necessary.
There are many ways that leaders can be courageous. These are just a few. Be brave.