It’s not just about being Brave, it is having the courage to act

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In early February I shared with you the beginning of a journey of discovery that was unfolding with a senior leader around brave leadership.  Where this particular leader ended our discussion was that if brave leadership was Acting on what we should do, regardless of the fear we might have where did the notion of courage fit as courage is often spoken about as being an essential ingredient of leadership. This week we sought to explore and develop answers to where courage might fit in the context of brave leadership.

Before we discuss courage let’s recap the five elements that need to be present in brave leadership

  1. Perspective is essential
  2. Value of taking action and Values guiding action
  3. Mind-set/beliefs
  4. Relationships
  5. Behaviour

The act of moving to action requires a particular way of behaving which takes courage to enact.  Within the context of leading in an organisation this senior leader, after discussion, challenge and reflection, settled on a menu of ten courageous behaviours which they might apply depending on the context:

  • Know what outcomes are required and be able to express them in ways that others at every level will understand;
  • Not only seek feedback but listen to what is being said;
  • Encourage people to push back to ensure all viewpoints are surfaced;
  • Be prepared to confront the reality of the situation;
  • Being prepared to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said;
  • Make decisions and pace decisions so forward momentum is maintained;
  • If you believe a course of action is correct whether based on objective data or intuition “hold the line” even when others try to persuade with counter arguments;
  • Willingly give and share credit with others;
  • Hold yourself and others accountable;
  • Take immediate action on underperformance.

In summary they concluded that brave leadership takes place within a context which they have critically thought about before deciding to act. Further they recognise that it is only with courage can they decide to behave in ways that will ensure actions occur so that required outcomes are actually achieved.

It seems, based on the above, that William Wallace (Braveheart) like many others over the eons of time was a brave and courageous leader.

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