Being a leader is not easy and we all approach it a little differently. But to be a truly great leader, we need to lead with courage. This means that we need to seek out and actively confront the difficult decisions and activities we face on a daily basis. This in turn means we need to recognise and accept the pain that comes with making those decisions.
How many times have we avoided the difficult conversation, the challenging feedback session or the tough decision? Having the courage to confront the pain and anxiety of making those tough decisions, having those difficult conversations and providing meaningful feedback is not easy but it is a trait that all truly great leaders display. Sure these things make us feel uncomfortable and anxious but they must be done if we are to develop successful teams that are engaged, collaborative and resilient.
The truly great leaders understand the need to make the uncomfortable decisions and are prepared for the pain that comes with that. They have developed strategies to confront the anxiety and discomfort and not shy away from their responsibilities as a leader. In her recent article, Why Great Leadership requires the courage to accept pain, Angela Sebaly asserts that to be an effective leader, you must understand your own relationship with pain and learn how to use it to your advantage. This requires a great deal of mental preparation and the courage to rise to meet challenges of leadership rather than running away from them.
There is a strong belief that courage is not something we are born with, rather it is a mindset and can be developed with practice and determination. By facing the uncomfortable things head on, you are actually building your capability to lead with courage and face the pain that sometimes comes with that. Leading with courage requires practice, focus and commitment and will most definitely come with some pain. But once developed, this is a skill that you can use in other aspects of your life not just the workplace. Nelson Mandela said ‘I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it’. So how are you going to conquer your fears?