A common characteristic of all great leaders is their willingness to take risks. This takes courage. Just being a leader doesn’t give you courage, but courage can give you a position in leadership.
Why is courage an important quality to have as a leader?
When leaders inevitably come to a place where a tough decision is required, it is their personal courage that enables them to stand firm and get through difficult situations.
Courage begins on the inside. When a difficult situation occurs the first battle is within the leader. It is a battle with personal fears and insecurities. Courage does not mean that a leader is free from feeling fear. However, courage is doing the thing that the leader is afraid to do. It takes courage to move out of the familiar and tread into uncharted territory. Despite fear, courage is the power to move forward.
It takes courage to make things right and not just smooth over ruffled feathers. The courage of true leadership is revealed while still standing in the midst of controversy and challenging circumstances. It is relatively easy and requires little effort to stay in your comfort zone or to do what is convenient. Courage is not required to stay comfortable. Leaders need essential people skills to get people to work together smoothly even if some compromise may be needed. However, it also takes courage to make a stand on what you believe to be right.
The courage of a leader will inspire commitment from their followers. Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” When a leader demonstrates courage, it encourages others to want to follow. Seeing the courage of a leader will inspire courage in the followers. A courageous leader is inspirational!
A leader’s ability to lead is limited by fear. In reality, people who take risks and people who don’t take risks, have the same amount of fear. The desire for safety prevents progress and initiative. However courage opens doors of opportunity. Interestingly, people who don’t take chances spend time worrying about trivial and insignificant things.
As a leader what is your response to your inner fear? Do you embrace stretching experiences as a regular part of your daily life? How can you strengthen your courage and risk taking ability? Here are some suggestions.
Go and do something that you are afraid to do. This might be white-water rafting, bungee jumping, or some similar activity.
Stop avoiding confrontation. If you know you need to speak the truth to someone, don’t keep putting it off.
Take a giant step. We often get stuck in our comfort zone. Is it time for you to make the next step in your career? Do you have an unfulfilled dream that you should move towards? Think about it, talk about it with friends and family and if it seems the right thing to do – just do it!!
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Every time you have the courage to face your fears, you become a stronger person.