Without risk, there’s no reward. Running a successful, lucrative business is about taking calculated risks. Thinking outside the box and doing things your competition isn’t willing to do.
But courageous leadership is about much more than just taking chances. As a leader, you’re responsible for guiding your subordinates without ostracizing them. This takes a delicate balance to achieve.
Courageous leaders are the unsung heroes of the business world – and sadly, hard to come by. But with a little insight into the basic principles of this leadership model, you can become the type of leader you’ve always wanted to be.
Ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Let’s get into it!
The Three T’s of Courageous Leadership
There are several elements needed to be a courageous leader, all of which fall under these three types of courage.
This is the type of courage most people are familiar with. Without the courage to try, you won’t get anywhere in business.
A courageous leader must be willing to take the risk, without any guarantee of the outcome. While you might fall flat on your face, you may also uncover the greatest innovation your company has ever seen.
And even if you do fail, a good leader will learn from the experience.
As much as you might like to take on every task and responsibility yourself, this is a dangerous game that will inevitably lead to burnout. This is where trust comes into play.
A good leader has the ability to relinquish some control, delegate tasks, and place trust in their employees. Not only does this promote teamwork, but it lightens your load.
By showing your staff you believe in them, you’re doing wonders for their productivity and self-confidence.
No good leader will succeed without effective communication skills. Even if you’re one of the brightest minds, the inability to convey your ideas could lead to your own demise.
Tell courage means having the courage to openly speak your mind and deliver your message with conviction. You must also deliver bad news or constructive feedback as effectively as you do good news.
Being a courageous communicator means handling the good, the bad, and the ugly with tact and conviction.
How to Apply What You Know
Now that you have a better understanding of what types of courage make up a good leader, let’s find out how to apply these principles.
1. Confront Reality
No good leader ever succeeded by sticking their head in the sand. Ignoring a looming problem will only make matters worse.
Regardless of how difficult or stressful a situation might be, as a courageous leader, you need to face reality head-on. This means understanding the current state of your company and being willing to make necessary changes.
Being stubborn or close-minded are two traits that have no place in your arsenal of leadership skills.
2. Show Your Vulnerabilities
And while we’re discussing character traits, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. In some rare cases, weakness is actually a sign of endearment.
This doesn’t mean you should flaunt your shortcomings to competitors. But it does mean that for your staff to respect and respond to you, you need to show them you’re human.
No one is perfect. If you present yourself this way to employees, you’ll automatically ostracize them.
Get your hands dirty. Make mistakes, admit to them, and then show your staff how to fix them.
Make yourself relatable and approachable. Showing that you understand (and have been) where your staff currently is, will help lay the foundation for a solid working relationship.
3. Have the Tough Conversations
While you want your employees to see you as one of them, there are also times when you need to assert yourself. And that means having the tough conversations that no one likes having.
It’s never pleasant to let someone go, reprimand a staff member, or get into a confrontation. But sometimes, it’s necessary. And courageous leadership is having the ability to handle these difficult situations.
You also need to approach your employees with honesty. Not all tough conversations have to end in conflict.
Maybe you’ve been receiving customer complaints about a certain staff member’s attitude or one of your employees is perpetually late. These may seem like minor issues, but if they go unaddressed they can turn into bigger problems down the road.
Nip these situations in the bud by speaking to your staff as soon as an issue arises. Be clear about your expectations moving forward and what will happen if these standards aren’t met.
4. Welcome Feedback and Pushback (and Actually Listen)
But your staff shouldn’t be the only ones receiving constructive criticism. Encourage your employees to offer feedback and even, pushback on policies, procedures, and anything else they’re concerned with.
Of course, all exchanges should be respectful, but employees shouldn’t feel like nameless, faceless robots simply carrying out your wishes. If you propose an idea or system that they can improve on, encourage them to tell you their ideas.
If something isn’t working, find out why and ask for suggestions. But simply asking for feedback isn’t enough. As a leader, you need to actually listen to what your employees are saying.
Take their feedback and see if you can implement actionable change that makes their jobs easier. After all, improving their work environment will only boost productivity, which is exactly what every good leader aims to do.
5. Lead by Example
Do as I say not as I do. It didn’t work when your parents tried it and it likely won’t work as a leader to your employees.
If you want to elicit positive change in the workplace, you need to lead by example. And one of the best ways to do this is by leading with change.
People find comfort and safety in the familiar. Employees subconsciously want things to remain status quo out of fear of change. But without change, you can’t have progress.
Help your staff envision a better way of doing things, whether that’s a better product, system or approach. Tackle these changes with an open, but a realistic mind.
This means anticipating hiccups along the way and having the wear with all to address them. You also need to explain the process to your staff. Don’t expect them to blindly follow you.
By doing so, they’ll become engaged and invested in the journey.
6. Make a Decision and Move On
Indecisiveness is another character trait that has no place in leadership. Making the wrong decision is better than making no decision at all. And once you’ve committed, you need to follow through.
Sitting on an idea without taking action might result in a lost opportunity, which is something you likely can’t afford. Courageous leaders are skilled at weighing the pros and cons of a situation and taking action – regardless of what the outcome might be.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should make careless decisions without any forethought. But forward progression is always better than being stuck in place.
7. Present a United Front
Just as you’ll likely make mistakes on your road to courageous leadership, so will your staff. And they need to know you have their backs.
This doesn’t mean supporting or excusing poor behavior or carelessness. But it does mean presenting a united front, as a company, to others.
It also means letting your employees know that it’s okay to make a mistake. There’s nothing worse than a staff member making a mistake and then trying to cover it up. This usually leads to an increasingly complicated situation and more headaches for you.
By letting staff know you’re in their corner, they’ll feel less tense and stressed about making minor errors.
8. Focus on Accountability
Courageous leadership is about holding everyone accountable – from yourself and other partners all the way down to the newest employees.
Just because you’re the founder of your company or worked your way up the proverbial food chain doesn’t mean you can start slacking off. In fact, it means you’ll have to work even harder to stay ahead.
This also connects back to leading by example. If you expect your employees to deliver quality work and service, while honoring their commitments, you need to do the same.
Be a role model by holding yourself accountable. By doing so, employees won’t be surprised or put off when you hold them accountable for their own missteps.
9. Give Praise
But just as important as it is to acknowledge and address mistakes, it’s equally as important to give credit where credit’s due. Without encouragement, employees will easily get discouraged.
A courageous leader has no problem praising staff for stellar job performance. In fact, a good leader understands the many benefits of doing so. Studies show that praising employees actually boosts productivity.
Offer incentives for hitting sales goals and acknowledge employee accomplishments on a company-wide level. This will motivate other staff to work a little harder in hopes of receiving their own recognition.
10. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. When the lines of communication break down, it’s virtually the beginning of the end.
Support a strong infrastructure by keeping the lines of communication open at all times. This means being approachable so that employees feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.
Keep your staff informed about upcoming changes taking place and how it might impact them. But also know that it’s okay not to have all the answers.
Let employees ask questions and express concerns, then do your best to address them in a timely manner. Withholding information sparks unnecessary concern and panic that could spread company-wide.
Be the Leader You’ve Always Dreamed of
Being a leader is about much more than barking orders, hiring and firing employees, and a fancy corner office. To be effective and successful, you must embrace courageous leadership and all its principles.
Our workshops can help uncover the secrets to increased employee engagement and reduced turnover.
Looking to motivate yourself and your staff to set and achieve the goals you’ve always dreamed up? Book me as a speaker and let’s get started!