Things Every Courageous Leader Knows (That Most Ignore)

Courage is a trait that seems to be in short supply these days, in leadership and elsewhere. People are looking for the kind of bold confident leaders we’ve seen throughout history—leaders who spoke up and stepped forward, who took the risks of true leadership when radical change was required.

Whether you’re in politics, business, education, or any other field, at the top of the ladder or working your way up, you will encounter situations that demand your courage. It won’t be easy. Courageous leadership requires strong principles and tremendous tenacity.

If you have what it takes to be a courageous leader, here are the things you need to do:

Confront reality head on. Take off your rose-colored glasses and face what is actually going on. Get the facts, because only when you know what really happening can you lead the situation into a more successful, effective place.

Allow for failure. Courageous leadership is open to bold new ideas—which means you have to allow for mistakes. The road to success is almost always paved with failures, so allow yourself to fail—and encourage your team to fail as well—so you can learn and grow from the experience.

Say what needs to be said. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I wish I had the courage to say what I want to say.” I always respond by saying, “Give it a try.” Be bold and say what needs to be said.

Encourage people to think for themselves. Many leaders have good ideas and enjoy sharing their wisdom with others, but it’s the courageous leader who encourages people to think for themselves and who listens to their thoughts.

Hold yourself accountable. Let people know they can count on you. Accountability means you take on responsibility, deliver on commitments, and own up to your own mistakes and limits. When you hold yourself accountable, you model that behavior to those around you and help establish a culture where it’s the norm.

Make decisions and move forward. Far too many environments foster a fearful approach to making decisions, but nothing great ever came out of fear. Express courageous leadership by encouraging decisive action that keeps things moving forward. Avoid the “paralysis of analysis.”

Stay on course even when it gets tough. Especially if you’re taking bold actions and encouraging risks, you’ll eventually bump into the challenges of tough situations. When you fall, get back up. When you fail, try again. Tenacity is a huge component of courage.

Give credit to those who deserve it. Be the courageous leader who isn’t fearful to take less of the credit and give the lion’s share to those who deserve it.

If it’s your wish to be a leader who wants to change the world, leave a mark, make a difference, you need to start now to mold yourself into a courageous leader. Find and nurture the qualities that make you brave and bold. Courage isn’t inborn; it’s learned.

Lead from within: The natural response when people say we need a courageous leader is to run from the notion, but life’s greatest leaps occur when we resist the impulse to run.


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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness


After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

3 Responses to “Things Every Courageous Leader Knows (That Most Ignore)”

  1. Chris Webb

    12. Sep, 2019

    Hi Lolly,

    I have been reading your content recently and it has really inspired me. I am just starting out focusing on my leadership blogs, my background is executive coaching but really want to focus on writing as I simply love it!

    If you have some time please take a look at my content and any feedback will be greatly welcome.

    Kind regards
    Chris

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  2. Steve Errey

    20. Sep, 2019

    Some solid insights here.

    I think the notion of courage is sometimes too romanticised. It’s seen as this thing that you pull out of the depths when time are at their hardest or when you’re facing impossible odds. Truth is, it’s simply knowing what matters to you, engaging with those things, and knowing that you’re already good enough.

    This courage and confidence is what allows leaders to lead with arms open, not fists clenched.

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