Have you heard this term before? It is one of my favourites from a leadership perspective.
It 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 did so many managers get promoted and have this issue. 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 2 years and all the business challenges we have had from the economic meltdown and imagine how often managerial courage is what 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!
Image Sources: knusper.com