Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
Courage is a necessary quality for every effective leader. When we lack leadership courage, it simply means we are fearful – of change, of addressing issues, or perhaps of defining roles and responsibilities. It takes courage to identify the tough issues facing a business and to address them head-on.
The most common areas of fear in leadership break down into three areas:
- People on your team. We may have the right people in the wrong positions. Or, we may have to face the fact that someone doesn’t share the organization’s values. When it comes to the tough decisions about how to reorganize or let go of team members, we must find the courage to make the right decisions for the organization. We start by defining the seats we need on our team, then the roles for each seat. Once we’ve done that, we can ask ourselves who the right person is for that seat. The right person should share our organization’s values, understand the role, have a passion for that role, and possess the skills and time to do the job.
- Customers. As the market changes, so do expectations. We might face unrealistic customer demands or expectations. Sometimes a company’s leadership must change their services, or fire a customer who is not the right fit, to ensure that our focus is on the work we do best with the customers we serve best. It takes courage to address changing expectations, particularly when we have long-standing customers with whom we’ve been doing business for years. We must define our core focus (purpose as an enterprise and the niche we serve best) and stick to it.
- Vendors. Similar to customers, many organizations enjoy long-term relationships with vendors. As the organization grows or refocuses, sometimes we need to make tough choices about whether our vendors can still meet our needs in a changing environment. We must define with precision the outside services we need and select only those essential to our success.
Being a great leader is a challenge on many levels. We need to address tough issues in a timely manner even when we know it will cause tension or hurt feelings. And when these issues prevent an organization from progressing and growing, the sooner we address them, with the courage to get to the heart of the issue, the better.
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