Character does matter. And courage, as one of its virtues, is vital.
Many a person placed in a position of authority or power has fallen due to a lack of courage. And they have, in many instances, also damaged the lives of countless others under their leadership.
How does courage play into leadership?
Courage means making bold decisions under conditions of uncertainty – or standing up to oppose potentially bad decisions.
Consider Alan Mulally, who turned Ford around from impending doom to a viable, profitable company. When Mulally arrived, Ford was unwilling to address the issues that were sinking it. Further, the organization was losing $18 Billion that year. In order to bring Ford’s operations and infrastructure up to speed, Mulally borrowed $23.5 Billion, convincing the Ford shareholders to put up its stock and the famous Ford Blue Oval as collateral.
Courage means having the confidence to act in difficult situations.
Mary Barra, General Motor’s chairwoman and CEO since 2014, addressed an angry Senate investigating committee immediately following her appointment. The Senate was examining deaths from failed ignition switches on Chevrolet Camaros. Barra took full responsibility – a bold and risky action. GM subsequently recalled more than half a million cars affected and paid more than $120M in settlements. Moving forward, Barra took the company’s products from problematic to high quality, earning the business a new reputation of excellence.
Courage means taking risks, coloring outside the lines, trying new things. It means growth, exploration, innovation – and so much more.
The first step toward developing more courage is to identify where, when, and in which situations you feel your courage falter.
Do you need to flex when it comes to confronting a chronic, damaging situation? Deciding to cut losses to render the business healthier? Acting more quickly and decisively when faced with moral issues?
Avoiding the tough stuff only postpones the inevitable.
Maya Angelou once said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
Where might you flex more of yours?
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.