Six Courageous Acts of Bosses We Love
Great leaders demonstrate courage. The forms are varied and the situations that require it diverse, but leaders need to find the mettle to do hard things. This goes beyond making tough calls. Being courageous may mean a leader admits a failure or asks her team to hold her accountable. It can look like a leader trusting an employee to manage a project without oversight, or delegating a key executive presentation.
Courage brings a leader’s values into sharp relief. It allows a team to understand the leader’s convictions and to feel supported.
In complex work environments, managerial courage becomes critical for success. If you’ve ever worked for someone who doesn’t exhibit backbone, you understand the risk. Without courage, tough decisions and difficult conversations are unaddressed. Problems fester and morale suffers.
In conversations with leaders over the past ten years, I’ve identified six forms of courage that repeatedly come up, whether as positive feedback or in reference to a type of courage that’s missing. See how they resonate for you. Are the following courageous acts ones you already perform in your daily life? Are there any types of courage you’d like to grow?
The courage to be honest
People are hungry for direct, honest conversations. They ward off a multitude of issues, yet are too rare in the workplace. Workers want to see their leaders be open and direct about the issues at hand. When they’re not, trust is eroded, conflicts develop and animosities build.
Honest conversations may not always be fun, but they are necessary. Being candid promotes a culture of open communication. We help build a more trustworthy environment whereby productive disagreement and forthrightness are valued. We show that it is worth pushing through any one person’s discomfort for the greater good.
The courage to focus on your purpose
We want our work to have significance, no matter our stage of career. The ideal is no longer
In order to promote a culture of purpose, leaders need to exemplify purpose themselves. This can take real courage as it may run counter to the culture of the company or of society. But leaders who show how to lead through purpose open up options for their teams. For example, consider several years ago when Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced she was committed to leaving the office at 5:30 PM to have dinner with her family. Her openness with her priorities in the work-obsessed Silicon Valley inspired others to consider their own
The courage to be authentic
Business culture has experienced a major shift in leadership norms: we now expect authenticity from above. People want fewer filters and masks and more humanity from their leaders.
Technology has broken down barriers and created intimacy of communication. Our leaders are available to us in blogs, videos, social media, and meeting platforms. Now when leaders are overly scripted or carefully professional, they seem even less authentic.
Rather than showing up as perfect, leaders should focus on connection. Leaders enhance trust when they have the courage to convey realness, admit mistakes, and show genuine emotion. People don’t want to work for an ideal; they want to work for a person.
The courage to lead by values
Many leaders are criticized for being opaque. Workers don’t have a sense of their values or what drives them, so they find it hard to trust them. Witnessing a leader trying to appease an array of personalities, it’s difficult to discern between what’s real and what’s spin.
A value-driven leader doesn’t have this transparency problem. Assured in their values, they boldly convey what matters to them. In turn, others are inspired by this confidence, even if they disagree with the leader’s stance.
I’ve seen value-driven leaders be open about their values from the first day on the job, even asking their teams to hold them accountable when they miss the mark.
The courage to take risks
As a means of self-preservation, we avoid undue risks and gravitate toward what’s safe and secure. Psychologists have identified that, while we all have loss aversion, as we experience success it gets stronger. We have more to lose so we hold on tighter.
But organizations need leaders to embrace calculated risks in order to innovate and change. Good leaders acknowledge risk, and their fear of it, but take those important steps anyway. When leaders are transparent about the courage they’re garnering to take a bold move, it creates attractor energy as people share in the experience in a deeper way.
The courage to let go
Finally, there’s a form of courage that takes the shape of letting go. It can be as simple as understanding when it’s time to step back and trust others to take the lead, perhaps letting go of needing things done a certain way.
Letting go can also be about giving up one fight, to have the energy for another one. Knowing when to admit defeat takes enormous
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