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Courage can be obvious, as demonstrated by the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save a life. But you don’t have to throw yourself on a grenade to demonstrate courage. Everyday acts of leadership courage make themselves much less obvious. They may not threaten life and limb, but the results can bring pain and embarrassment rather than glory and honor.

man under deskEvery time you make a decision that you fear your employees will resent, it takes courage. Delivering tough, Call & Response Redirection certainly requires leadership guts. Confronting your manager with the unvarnished truth definitely demands a great deal of nerve.

That’s all good news, because if every leadership decision were easy and if they all rewarded you immediately, leadership would be easy, anyone would be able do it… Think about what that would mean.

Everyday Opportunities

No matter how courageous you may be, you can always develop more courage. Every day you should encounter ordinary opportunities to demonstrate courage. If you don’t, something’s wrong. It may mean that the management above you lacks the courage to challenge you. Do they avoid conflict, play politics, and do no more than what it takes to get by? If so, you won’t develop your leadership potential.

Or do your leaders make decisions based on hard evidence, face uncomfortable facts, accept what the cold truth reveals, take the required action no matter how frightening or risky, and demand that you do the same? If that’s the case, you’re under courageous leadership and you will develop likewise.

Courageous Qualities

Either way, developing your personal leadership courage is principally your responsibility. For the most part, you probably won’t have to perform highly heroic actions that inspire awe and applause in order to develop. Performing everyday actions with everyday bravery will build your leadership pluck like everyday exercise builds your muscles.

Here are 13 things courageous leaders do and don’t do every day.

  • Confront tough problems
  • Sell a bold vision for the future
  • Never pretend they don’t know what they actually know
  • Do what needs to be done, based on what’s best for group, not their personal agenda
  • Never stall or procrastinate when faced with difficult challenges
  • Drive accountability, not just activity
  • Focus on what they need to know, not what amuses them
  • Say what they mean, mean what they say, and never say it mean
  • Never use “I did my best” or “I ran out of time” as excuses
  • Encourage their reports to think for themselves, take risks, and grow
  • Never say “Because I said so!” or “That’s an order!”
  • Stick with their pursuits when the going gets tough
  • Mend shaky and broken relationships


Got Guts?

To really learn and put into practice the most effective ways to improve your development as a leader, I strongly recommend our CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Program. There you will learn and practice the leadership skills you need to address alongside leaders like you from other organizations with many of the same challenges. Learn more about CoachQuest.

See also:

Tenacity in the Balance


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.