Courage is critical for leaders and for business success. I doubt this will come as a surprise to you – especially if you have been leading an organisation or department for some time.
The question is, how does courage manifest itself in the business world – and what sort of courage do you need?
The ‘slaying dragon’ kind? The ‘standing up to your enemy’ kind? The ‘protecting your nearest and dearest’ kind? The ‘protecting your assets’ kind? The ‘quietly getting on with things’ kind? The ‘keeping going no matter what’ kind? All of the above and then some?
Let’s have a look at them and their relevance for business in turn:
‘Slaying dragon’ courage goes out and seeks danger, finds it in its lair and gets rid of it – or dies in the attempt. This is about driving the organisation to be externally focused, to go out and overcome uncertainty and changing market conditions.
‘Standing up to your enemy’ courage waits for trouble to come and seek it – and if/when it does, stands up to it calmly (although it doesn’t feel like that inside!) In business we need to stand up to our competition and hold our own, by continuously reviewing our business model and making certain we know as much as possible about our competitors.
‘Protecting your nearest and dearest’ courage makes sure that protection is in place and is always on the alert – just in case trouble finds it – and if it does, attacks trouble fiercely to ensure that it can’t get anywhere near its loved ones. We need to protect our people and their jobs by empowering and challenging them to take on their responsibilities and think ahead with us for the future of the company.
‘Protecting your assets’ courage is sly and plans ahead, anticipating trouble and preventing it from arising. This is about protecting our other (non-human) assets, by ensuring all our people understand the key financial drivers of our organisation, and work to achieve them within their sphere of influence.
‘Quietly getting on with things’ courage operates under the radar of danger and trouble, being aware of them, acting as if they were not imminent and using trouble’s systems to beat it. We need to quietly get on with things in the storms of changing circumstances, everyday challenges and any arising crises by keeping to our chosen goal and adapting how we get there along the way.
‘Keeping going no matter what’ courage deals with trouble and obstacles as they arise, and wavers rarely – and if it does, it regroups fast and reframes the barrier into an opportunity. And we certainly need to keep going in business, no matter what obstacles, barriers, challenges and even natural disasters occur, by taking responsibility for our decisions and actions and championing the change we want to see from any of our stakeholders.
So, what are we learning about courage in business? – We do need all aspects of courage in business, especially as leaders – courage is critical.
Looking forward to hearing what other forms of courage you have come across and/or are applying when going about your day-to-day business of leading your company.