Want to understand how to increase courage as a leader? Then you are in the right place.
Authentic leadership is supported by courage. Becoming a leader requires awareness of this, who you are, in addition to developing skills that define who you are. The excellent news is that courage can be developed, measured, and tracked to illustrate change in this area. But before we start exercising courage, the important question is the motivation for the change we want to make.
So first of all, it is worth answering ourselves where do we need more courage, why do we need this change, what would be done to make it different, what would change me as a leader and, finally, how would other people feel about that matter.
Now that we know what we need courage for, we can start working on it. Each of us can develop courage within himself. by practicing the following four competencies:
– Conscious use of self-sensitivity.
– Awareness of one’s own values and living in harmony with them.
– Build confidence in yourself and others.
– Rise from adversity.
How to Increase Courage as a Leader:
Pillar 1: Sensitivity
It’s about the will and courage to show ourselves as we are. It’s about the courage to disclose sensitive places. An illustration of sensitivity understood as vulnerability is, for example, the willingness to acknowledge our own ignorance, fear, joy, and sometimes success. It’s about crossing a certain threshold of fear, which we expect a negative evaluation of.
Watch out for traps
One of the pitfalls that await us on the way of taming our sensitivities is what we can hardly call “exposing everything to everyone.” Sensitivity is about the willingness to show oneself in a specifically created environment, characterised by a sense of security, intimacy and trust.
This is particularly important in an organizational context where the level of trust can vary widely. The most significant thing is that each leader should have at least one place in their world where they cannot pretend to be in front of themselves and others. Such a space could be: a home, a friend, training, therapy, or a relationship with a mentor.
Two steps to sensitivity
There are two things that are at the heart of the development of sensitivity. First, to become aware of the negative beliefs about sensitivity that we have absorbed throughout our lives.
The most popular ones I hear in my work are:
→ Sensitivity is a weakness
→ I do not need sensitivity for life
→ if you’re too sensitive, people will take advantage of it.
The process of consciousness is inscribed in its dynamics of change, but it’s worth listing such beliefs to answer one additional question: do these beliefs bring me any closer to becoming what I want to be?
Once we have overcome our beliefs, we are ready to move on to the planning phase:
→ Under what circumstances do I feel safe enough to open up? How do I make it?
→ How do I feel when I haven’t got someone to talk to about what is going on inside of me? – How will it affect me? In my neighborhood? About my professional effectiveness?
→ How am I able to benefit from my sensitivity at work?
→ How can it support me in my daily life?
→ How will I take care of it? How will I develop it?
Pillar 2: Value
Values are the ideas on which we build personal and experienced realities. Keep in mind that values are something that changes over time, evolves. and is undergoing a metamorphosis.
Something that was important to us a year ago, for example financial stability, is now less of a problem, because first of all… it comes to personal development, which is where we started investing. Or have we replaced the “traveling” value with the “family” value, since we decided to use it.
Values are such beacons that in times of decision to be made, in times of turbulence and uncertainty… they point us in the right direction. How to find them? There are several ways to find it.
Find out what’s important to you
The simplest thing we can do to find out what is most significant to us is look at our bank statements from the last year and see what we spent the most on.
In other words, money is the time we spend getting it, and then we decide to exchange it for something else. For many people this is a difficult exercise, because it shows that we aren’t necessarily investing in what is most significant to us.
It may turn out that during the year we spend the most on health, retraining or travel. Or maybe the first place of expenditure is occupied by things related to household furniture.
Whatever we find there, let’s list down the three most often occurring expense groups and look at whether or not they represent the value we want to consume with our money. If we find we feel consistency in how we want to live, what we spend our money with, then all is well.
However, if there’s a clear difference between what we invest in, and what’s most significant to us, it’s worth taking a life inventory. Incidentally the difference in value vs. this behavior (1) can be painful and at the same time, a key point of change in our lives that will bring us closer to a sense of consistency and meaning.
Another way to find out what is important to us in our life is to write down 15 values that are important to us.
They can be for example health, friendship, family, happiness, love, work, development, honesty, courage, travel, fun, trust, nature, financial stability, creativity.
From that list we then selected the five most significant. Furthermore, from the five steps selected, we select the two most significant. Narrowing down from a list of fifteen to two helps us along the way of elimination to estimate what really matters most to us in important ways.
This way of investigating one’s own values often generates much resistance amongst those who do so, because they claim that it is quite difficult to narrow down such a broad list.
But I assure you, that when we try hard to choose these two most significant axes in our life, in our daily life the dilemma will enter clarity whether we are where we want to be in this life.
Pillar 3: Trust
The colloquial meaning of the word ‘trust’ is quite shallow and at the same time, very broad. Trust is the foundation of a sense of security on which relationships can be built, both individually and in society as a whole.
But when we tell someone we trust them, or when we know they trust us, do we know precisely what that means?
Looking at the subject of belief, I have come to the conclusion that belief is not one skill, but… seven. Here they’re:
- Responsibility: the ability to admit mistakes.
- Keep a secret: the ability to keep confidential information that somebody entrusts to us with that intent.
- Credibility: the ability to do what we conform to do.
- Limit acceptance: the ability to set and respect the boundaries of others.
- Good interpretation: the ability to assume the best intentions.
- Neutrality: the ability to refrain from judgment, particularly when we ask someone for help.
- Integrity: the ability to live according to values.
Trust is something that’s built gradually over time. Impossible to say: Trust me, and expect the neighborhood to do it soon.
We build trust by delivering on our promises (2), building relationships in the kitchen, drinking coffee, meeting deadlines, and remembering that our friend’s child is waiting for the results of his highschool exam.
Small steps build big trust. So if the leader-ward relationship doesn’t pay attention to the small steps built on the basis of these seven indicators, the likelihood of a solid foundation of trust is rather small.
Keep in mind that trust has two sides. One is trusting others, and the other is trusting oneself. Both of these strengths are important elements of leadership. We’ll look into each and each one of these perspectives now.
In relationships with other people, both professional and private, it’s worth examining which of these seven elements of belief is the best and which are worth working on.
Maybe it is because we cannot set boundaries in our relationship with our superiors or the other party cannot respect them. And maybe in some relationships the person to whom we entrust some information doesn’t keep his word and shares it with others.
Choose a relationship with one person in your environment in which you want to see the subject of trust. Then answer the questions for the following questions:
→ Can this person own up to his mistakes and take responsibility for it himself? – Is he blaming someone else?
→ Does this person keep the secrets entrusted to her or him?
→ Does the person fulfill his or her commitments?
→ Does this person respect my boundaries?
→ Does this person consider my good intentions?
→ Do I feel very valuable in my relationship with this person?
→ Can I freely ask for help in this connection?
→ Am I living according to my own values?
In the next step, answer the following questions:
→ Which elements are the strengths of your relationship?
→ Which of the following elements is the weakest part of your relationship?
→ Why do you think this aspect of trust does not work?
→ What are you prepared to do to strengthen this element?
→ What would you like to ask the other party to cooperate in this area?
Believe in yourself
Believing in yourself can be an enormous source of strength. Besides trusting others, it forms the basis of our relationship with ourselves.
In the next exercise we will apply the same question matrix to this problem as before. But this time, we’ll be in touch with ourselves in the workshop:
→ Am I responsible for my mistake and am I able to admit it? Do I blame other people?
→ Am I respecting my willingness to express myself? Am I not expressing more than I’m prepared to disclose?
→ Do I do what I say I will do?
→ Do I set and respect my own boundaries?
→ Do I assume my good intentions?
→ Am I judging myself? Am I criticizing myself for needing Help?
→ Am I living by my values? Am I consistent?
In the next step we answer the following questions:
→ Which of these elements is the strength of my relationship with myself?
→ Which of these elements is the weakest part of my relationship with myself?
→ Why does not this aspect of trust work for me?
→ What did I prepare to strengthen this element?
This aspect of trust can even be seen through the following questions:
→ Are we in our team responsible for our mistakes or are we blaming others?
→ As a team, can we keep secrets?
→ As a team, did we meet our promised deadlines?
→ As a team, can we build and then respect the … boundaries that are set?
→ Do we consider the nice intentions of everybody on our team? with members?
→ Can we ask for help and not treat it as weakness?
→ Do we in our team act according to the following criteria with your own values?
Pillar 4: Difficulties
People need to be taught how to land before they can jump. Parachute specialists spend plenty of time jumping from ladders. This way they find out how to touch the ground so as not to hurt themselves.
Personally, I have never attended such training before, but I had the opportunity to observe it before. The same goes for leadership. You cannot expect people to be brave and risk failure if they haven’t got the opportunity to prepare for a hard landing in advance.
When we undergo difficult moments in our life, we undergo three phases: recognition, struggle and revolution.
This process can be described as follows:
Phase 1 – the so-called initiating event occurs, i.e. something that starts the trajectory of the difficult moment. Starting events are very different, for example: a difficult conversation with someone, an sickness, shocking news that does not match our thoughts, a bad speech, divorce, firing someone, getting fired, losing a client, etc.
Phase 2 – then the processes related to experiencing phase 1 take place internally and externally within us. Most of the emotional events take place here. We experience a wide range of feelings and on the basis of them we choose various kinds of behavior.
Phase 3 – if we have courage and strength, we do not suppress what happened in phases 1 and 2, we learn as much as we can about one another, about other people, about the world of events, which will help us develop as people.
Now think of some difficult events from your professional or personal life that you have experienced. Recall situations from memory, which cost you emotionally, physically, temporarily or financially.
Take a look at it using the following questions:
Phase 1 – What really happened? What was the trigger point of the situation? What is the first emotion that arises in you?
Phase 2 – What emotions arise in you? Are they: embarrassed, worried, angry, sorry, sad, etc.? What precisely causes them? What’s really behind your reaction? Do you cover up your fears with anger? What is your first interpretation of the event? How do you evaluate yourself in it? How would you rate the other people involved in the event?
Phase 3 – What lessons were most significant to you? What will you do next time? What’s that? did the event teach you about yourself? About other people? About the world? Examples of lessons from this stage could be for example:
→ Next time I will dare to ask for help.
→ I will watch over you to stand up and respect your boundaries.
→ I won’t approve additional projects
→ I will speak on the teleconference.
In this three-step process, we need to remember of two pitfalls that we can fall into.
One way is to create fake scenarios based on incomplete data. So we must watch out whether in times of emotional arousal, based on a few facts alone, we do not create a complex chain of causal events.
It can be as follows: we send someone a vital e-mail, he doesn’t answer us, so we start to interpret it as e.g. ignorance, unwillingness towards us or we start to believe that certain problems or us aren’t important to this person.
Is the story I’m telling myself in my head true? Let’s examine which elements are facts and which are my assumptions? In such a situation, you just need to take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On one side, write down all the facts about this situation, and on the other hand, write down the assumptions that we made.
The most frequent conclusion from this exercise is the reflection that on the basis of one or sometimes two facts, a long list of assumptions is made. The way out of such a situation is to question the assumptions made.
We all know that: emotional suppression. In order not to fall into this trap, which can effectively block the transition to the revolutionary phase, it is a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:
→ Can I recognize the emotion that came to me at that moment?
→ How do I react to them?
→ What’s really behind my reaction?
→ Am I not suppressing my emotions, thereby depriving myself of the info that carries the mandatory information to analyze the situation?
The most significant thing in carrying out these four competencies is not only knowledge about them, but also practice. Awareness of their existence alone is not enough, the key in the process of developing brave leadership is their training.
Just like with physical exercise. It is important to develop this skill in situations, important and less significant, those we expect and those that come as a surprise.
It’s like a muscle – the more we use it, the stronger it becomes. The more we want to be brave, the more often we must practice this courage.
Thank you for reading this article on how to increase courage as a leader and I actually hope you take action on my advice.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.