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Courageous Leadership 12 traits of courageous leaders By Sandra Ford Walston The concepts of courageous leadership are deceptively simple. The mind (ego) will want to undermine them. The challenges will come in responses such as “Courage cannot be taught” or “After all, how could something so easy work.” People have a tendency to shun simplicity for complexity. Simplicity takes self-discipline and time to reflect—not behaviors our hyper-individualized culture supports. Being an advocate of simplicity means it has nowhere to hide, and neither do the men and women (“Ambassadors of Courage”) who promote their everyday courage and demonstrate courageous leadership. Do you recognize the value of simplicity? Courage is a big word! When was the last time you uttered the word or said, “Now, that’s an example of courageous leadership!” such as when someone was unwilling to falsify evidence, standing up for a peer who was being wrongfully treated or transcending rejection from a coworker who rolled their eyes in a staff meeting? Different people manifest courageous leadership skills in different ways. One-size-courage does not fit all. All you have to do is decide whether this forgotten virtue is worth learning. Leadership qualities are defined by courage actions such as asking for the tough project or working without regrets. What is your definition of courage? Do you know the origin of the word? Courage is neither Greek nor Latin; it’s Medieval Old French corage, meaning “heart and spirit” or cuer, meaning “heart.” Courage is a forgotten virtue, because people do not recognize their everyday actions as significant. Most people think of courage as bold, aggressive, gutsy, brave (bravery is not synonymous with courage), or being a glorified bully. Awakening people at work to the original definition and guiding them to claim, integrate and apply courageous leadership actions (and in their personal lives) summons an intention. Are you willing to announce a “Declaration of Courageous Intention?” What would motivate you to explore how this ancient virtue fits into your work life? Consider integrating and modeling the 12 behaviors of courageous leaders, and then be a model by passing them on: 1. Give yourself permission to claim your courage. Inertia is probably the first and most critical obstacle that holds us back on the job—the obstacle that prevents us from initiating everyday courage and moving forward. In inertia, life becomes unfulfilling and insipid. The discipline required to overcome this insidious obstacle requires you to “give yourself permission to claim your courage.” Unless you give yourself permission and declare your intention, you will never fully embrace your courage and achieve the level of success and satisfaction that you desire. A courageous individual has learned that courage is acquired by conscious design and that you strengthen it, step by step, choice by choice. Ask yourself this critical question: Are you willing to give yourself permission to claim your courage? What would you do differently, right now, if you had “unlimited courage?” 2. Confront uncomfortable truths head-on. Only by learning to express ourselves from our own courageous identities can we truly begin to confront uncomfortable truths to overcome ambiguity, especially about ourselves. When that outlook happens we begin to notice that people respond to us in a different way. Somehow, they recognize that we are real, accessible and centered in courage consciousness. Therapist Shane Holst confirms this value, “Nothing works better than communication. For example, I had a young woman say to me recently that she was frustrated by poor structure at meetings, i.e., red herrings, poor chairing, no or inadequate agendas and the like. She wanted to speak up but was afraid of offending her superiors. My advice to her (using nothing more profound than communication) was to say, ‘I’m worried to say this for fear of offending some people, but I believe our meetings would be more productive if we had’ … etc. The point here is to speak the concern; voice the concern; reveal your concern; pre-empt your concern … no matter what, please voice your concern or fear as exactly as it is.” Only by learning to express our true selves can we confront uncomfortable truths at work and move beyond ambiguity. 3. Reveal vulnerability.  Revealing vulnerability exposes a person’s true nature and undermines the ego tendency to get stuck in self-serving illusions. Revealing vulnerability allows our best lights to shine into the workplace. The difficulty arises from the ego mentality that refuses to believe this, insisting instead that vulnerability is a sign of weakness that must be hidden. “Real courage in the workplace is usually so quiet that it goes unnoticed,” said marketing guru Rob Gates. 4. Instill self-discipline.  The tendency to fall into the “average” mindset keeps us stuck in apathy versus instilling self-discipline. Chris is a national sales manager who believes that applying courage “is the only way to create something unique. Doing what everyone else does will give only similar results.” Do you have the courageous will to take the next step to instill self-discipline? 5. Establish higher standards.  Failing to challenge ourselves to meet high standards keeps us trapped in a place of unrealized potential. In other words, we all have unrealized potential, and if we do not establish personal standards for ourselves, we simply cannot break away from self-defeating doubt that undermines our efforts to manifest that potential. Ask yourself this question: Are you ready to ditch your doubts and take a chance? 6. Motivate yourself from within. Reflection is required to examine what truly troubles the spirit witnessed as sleepless nights or feeling disengaged at work. Identifying the first small step to motivation quells the anxiety. Try first to focus on something immediate and easily reachable. This narrow focus helps you recognize that courage is an accumulation of small steps up the ladder, and this simple recognition helps you to continue stepping up. In other words, learning to motivate yourself means moving away from what prevents you from experiencing joy in your work in order to find what you love doing. What is important is to learn how you are going to let the real you shine. Sometimes losing a job is the kick in the butt that motivates us to expose self-neglect and demand self-fulfillment. 7. Manifest your vision. To allow your true Self to manifest your best possible work situation requires your mind to be still and Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 10.2014 Submit your Articles 29


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