Courage in Leadership – 2021 and Beyond
Nancy Kaur
5 May 2021

Courage in Leadership – 2021 and Beyond

‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.’ Anais Nin

What is courage?  Courage can be referred to as ‘bravery’ or ‘valour’. Other terms include daring, fearlessness, firmness, fortitude, determination, backbone, guts, heroism and many more.

From a leadership perspective, courage can take many forms. For example, speaking, up, taking charge, voicing your perspective during times of disagreement, and having that authentic conversation?  That means, that courage can be or is one of the most appreciated capabilities of leaders today.

How do we become courageous?  Firstly, it is important to be yourself (be authentic).  Secondly, act fearlessly and with conviction.  Thirdly, take a stand to resolve important issues, and fourthly, carry the message of courage by being a role model.

Being courageous is not only a leader capability.  There are many types of courage such as: physical courage, personal courage (self-leadership), moral courage, and workplace courage. Throughout my career I have attempted to display workplace courage by addressing inequities in the workplace or initiating change by sharing new and or innovative ideas. Of course, these new concepts have not always been met with resounding approval.

I have also worked on transferring this workplace courage into my personal life. It is not easy having an authentic conversation with family especially if family members are very opiniated and forthright. It has taken me many years to realise that I do not have to succumb to be will of the power elite.  It is okay to take a stand and just say, no, thank you! Upon reflection demonstrating courage in my personal life is not just about protecting yourself, maintaining peace of mind, and staying true to your path.

What type of courage inspires you?  Here are the five types with definition:

  1. Physical courage – courage to overcome the fear of bodily injury or any form of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death.
  2. Personal courage(self-leadership) – the courage to be.  Courage required for self-affirmation of one’s being and the ability to face life.
  3. Moral courage – courage to overcome the fear of emotional harm, rejection from others, or any other consequences of doing the right thing.
  4. Workplace courage – courage to prevent or address any form of harm or work-related problems in a positive way by either speaking up, taking personal initiative, and initiating change by bring forward new ideas, discussing problems, and offering solutions to improve the work environment.

Finally, it seems that there could be links between the different types of courage as we navigate our journey.  What types of courage are you comfortable with and which types are a no-go zone?

Go forth and be courageous!

‘Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.’  Steve Jobs

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