This is the first article in our series entitled: Building Your Leadership Potential
Having the emotional fortitude to make courageous decisions can take a toll on you mentally and physically. Making bold decisions requires a deep personal strength over time as well as the ability to appropriately express your thoughts and emotions. When your team members and peers see that you’re able to listen and incorporate their feedback, they will be much more willing to take the leap and follow your lead. See how solid decision making, inspiring others, and courageous leadership translate into personal growth and the ability to accelerate change.
You may be surprised to find that even the most elite leaders in the world feel fear: fear that their decisions will be unpopular, fear that they will personally fail and most importantly — fear that they will make a bad decision that negatively impacts their organization or their team. These fears are valid in many ways as they provide an impetus for us to do our research before making big decisions. Fear is a normal part of leadership, and if you don’t feel a certain level of uncertainty before making decisions, especially big ones, you may be lacking in self-awareness.
It is the role of the leader to scan the landscape, gather pertinent information and make the best decision for the company and themselves based on the input. This can transform what some might view as a “risky” decision into one where you’ve weighed the alternatives and plotted the best path forward. What’s truly risky is NOT taking action.
Overcoming your fear starts by trusting yourself and your decision-making ability, while still not being afraid to ask for the opinions of others. It can take a great deal of personal courage to admit that you don’t know all the answers. Empower your team by extending this vision of bold leadership to each of them, encouraging them to lean into risks — knowing that you will support their decisions. Understanding how to leverage your personal strengths, as well as those of your team, will help you accelerate change management within your organization.
Uncover Your Strengths
Do you have a solid understanding of your innate power — that “special sauce” that makes you special and unique? Determining these strengths can help you find the courage to bring others to consensus, even when change is proving more difficult to manage than you expected. When you work through the CliftonStrengths 34 program, you can often find the emotional courage that you need to be successful both now and in the future. Understanding not only our key themes but those of our staff and peers can help boost performance both personally and professionally.
Talking through your themes with your peers, direct reports or supervisor can provide a lens through which to interpret what you’ve learned. This often leads to enhanced success as you process emotional baggage and overcome internal struggles — and get out of your own way. Leading with emotional courage isn’t something that is touchy-feely or esoteric. Instead, the frameworks you work through are a straightforward way to approach creating a positive change in your life or in your work.
The Four C’s of Leadership
According to Harvard Business Review author Peter Bregman, there are four C’s that are essential in leadership: being confident, connected, committed and courageous. Anytime we struggle to follow through on a necessary and strategic decision, we’re slowing down forward progress and could ultimately cause more harm to the organization.
Here’s what Bregman has to say about leadership:
“ . . . you need to show up powerfully and magnetically in a way that attracts people to trust you, follow you, and commit to putting 100% of their effort into a larger purpose, something bigger than all of you. You need to care about others and connect with them in such a way that they feel your care. You need to speak persuasively — in a way that’s clear, direct, and honest and that reflects your care — while listening with openness, compassion, and love. Even when being challenged.”
Being courageous in this instance may mean making a decision that’s personally difficult — such as firing someone who is a good person, but ultimately underperforming. It may be closing a division that is dragging down the rest of the organization. To accomplish these feats of leadership, it’s essential that you are first connected to those around you and committed to a purpose. It can take a great deal of emotional courage and self-confidence to take that first step. Once you start down the path you’re able to see the wins that will help maintain your momentum and your faith in yourself and your plans.
Active Change Management
Helping your team and peers become comfortable with the decisions that you make is a critical step in the path to success. Change is difficult, and people handle change in different ways. While some people appear to welcome adjustments with open arms, others will become wary or disengaged when faced with a challenge of this nature.
In their role as a coach, leaders must understand how to navigate these various responses to change and help bring individuals along in a positive way. While change may make still some people uncomfortable, it’s less likely that your decisions will be viewed as unpopular or invalid. When you understand the different ways that people react to less-than-ideal circumstances, you are often able to shift the perception to a positive outcome by encouraging teammates to speak into the change over time. This should be done in such a way that it’s authentic — not requesting their input after a decision has already been made but truly including others at each step of the process to build personal investment in the final outcome.
Transforming Differences Into Advantages
Creating a robust and well-balanced team starts with finding individuals who mesh well together, and that often means finding people who have unique strengths and opinions. A healthy team includes people with different strengths, but also the ability to understand how to accurately communicate with others. It would be unusual for everyone on a team to have the same 5 core Strengths.
The diversity within the team allows you to leverage the differences between team members and turn them into an advantage for the overall team and organization. Ongoing coaching can help you process decisions appropriately for your leadership style while maintaining critical support from colleagues and business leaders. See how viewing yourself through the lens of courageous leadership can help create an era of positive change in your personal and professional life. Contact me today at 206-393-2392 or via email to Chris@chrisgossard.com for a free initial strategy session or to begin your CliftonStrengths journey.
- You must overcome your fear to create something unique and special.
- Uncovering and trusting your strengths can lead to overwhelming success.
- Being confident, connected, committed and courageous are all hallmarks of exceptional leaders: create accountability, inspire action and have hard conversations
- How your differences can be leveraged to become advantages.