Too many times, we were told that “leaders” recognize problems but decide to take the cowardly and sweep trouble under the rug. Recenlty the issue of Courageous Leadership has come to the spotlight with the scandal surrounding Penn State football and the child sexual abuse charges against a former football coach. The scandal resulted in the firing of a legendary football coach that has recorded more wins than any NCAA football coach in history. Leaving us with one big question, “where did it all go wrong?”. For many involved in the scandal, the problem began whem those in charge refused to lead courageously. Below are four aspects of a courageous leader.
1. The first and foremost requisite courage needed for leaders is moral courage.
Courage is defined simply as “acting on principle.” Leaders lose all of their credibility if they do not demonstrate this courage. Leaders first must do that which is right. Every other act or decision is secondary.
2. Great leaders must also demonstrate selfless courage.
Effective leaders will seek to put employees, the organization, and others before themselves. Their first concern is not their own job security, their paycheck, or their ego.
3. Great leaders also have intellectual courage.
They are not managers who simply respond to orders. They are men and women who challenge conventional wisdom, who think beyond “the way we’ve always done it,” and who set aside time to imagine new possibilities. They are great thinkers who act on their newly found knowledge.
4. Finally, those who lead with courage have execution courage.
These leaders act quickly and decisively. They don’t wait until they get 100 percent of the facts before they take action. They are not reckless or irresponsible; they simply understand that indecisiveness can paralyze and demoralize an organization. Timidity leads to mediocrity.
Good News/Bad News
The bad news is that relatively few leaders demonstrate courageous leadership. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that relatively few leaders demonstrate all four aspects of courageous leadership.
The good news is that much of courageous leadership can be learned. But becoming a courageous leader demands a willingness to put others first, to make tough decisions that are often personally costly, and to have the willingness to take reasonable risks.
Most leaders understand these choices. Fewer are willing to make such choices.