Hi there everyone, this is Rachel Hewitt-Hall from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast. Thanks for joining me again and this weeks pod is on courage over comfort and why this is a trait of great leaders.
It was Nelson Mandela who said “I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
And that holds true for great leaders of every kind….
Ok, you may not have to deal with an oppressive regime or face an angry and hungry lion, but having courage at any level requires a basic requirement for you to step out of your comfort zone and tackle obstacles (or lions) head–on.
Even if it feels a bit scary….. which sometimes it will.
It’s easy to sit and talk about effective leadership rather than actually doing it. Great leaders know that leadership is a space where you might not necessarily have all the right answers, all the time.
Where tough decisions and difficult conversations take place, where guiding and influencing others in situations with uncertain outcomes is the norm and …. YET….providing motivation to others is continually expected of you the leader, no matter what might be going on for you!
This kind of responsibility places a great deal of pressure on the leader – you are pivotal in the future success of your business, and the wellbeing and productivity of the people who work for it too.
Here is the thing…
Pressure hits us all differently – but to be an outstanding leader you have to embrace it as an opportunity, acknowledge and own your actions and accept there will be challenges and failures that you will, no doubt, encounter on your way.
After all, we all know nothing of worth was ever achieved without the odd slip-up!
In other words, how you deal with that pressure is what makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader.
…. And this is where a focus of courage over comfort comes in.
But I’ll get into that in just a moment.
First, though, if you are new here… welcome!
By the way, you’ll always find a transcription of our podcast over on the Excel Communications website.
Which is also full of resources to help you develop your leadership capability.
Over the last few years we’ve run many leadership training webinars and if you would like access to these please visit https://www.excel-communications.com/wr – and the wr is in lower case.
So, here we go.
What are the components that make up courage and critically courageous behaviour?
………. And why do many people shy away from being courageous; choosing to remain doing the same old thing, with the same people, in the same way?
It’s a fact that courageous leaders are in short supply these days.
Why?……Well, it’s because it’s just so much easier to keep the status quo than venture into that risky area of the “Great Unknown”.
But you want to be an outstanding leader, don’t you?
So how do you put on your armour of courage and blaze a trail for you and your team?
It starts with….
Embracing the fear
Fear is an extremely potent emotion. We are hard-wired to lean towards safety and security, so it’s no wonder that most people don’t want to take any kind of risk.
No wonder there are not many courageous leaders in the world!
In the good old days, fear would keep you safe from being eaten by a hungry bear or make you hesitant about lowering the drawbridge to an angry mob.
But nowadays, fear of being eaten or attacked by your rival for the throne has been replaced by fear of failure, and that can keep us safe in our comfort zone.
And, while this may well result in us feeling safe and secure in familiar surroundings, it won’t challenge us, or help us take the next step to achieve our dreams.
One of my favourite researchers and motivational speakers, Brené Brown, said of courage – “Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”
And it’s true. Courage has a sort of tangible quality to it; like it can actually rub off someone else on to you, fuelling your own motivation and giving you the power to push ahead.
And that’s so important to you as a leader.
That motivation you give your team by exuding courage yourself will drive you all forward and help you achieve great things.
But first, you have to trust yourself.
Let me explore this with a couple of examples.
Elon Musk didn’t become CEO of two global companies without dealing with an economic collapse, broken cars and failed rockets along the way.
Similarly, Oprah didn’t make over 2.5 billion without overcoming problems with resilience, which enabled her to seize an opportunity when it arose.
So, believe in yourself – take action amid uncertainty – do what you believe to be right despite the risks and accept that you might fall short of achieving your goals. At least on your first try.
Here is a favourite of mine...
Learn to be Vulnerable
Being vulnerable means having the courage to press ahead when you have no control over the outcome of your actions.
On a day to day basis, this can cover everything from a meeting with your boss, a phone call to a client or any of the many conversations that will take place with colleagues, friends and family.
Vulnerability is a place where you might feel excited and anxious at the same time. You want to go ahead, and you know it’s the right thing to do. But you are worried about what’s going to happen.
And there it is again – that little voice inside (you know, the one urging you to pull up the drawbridge or run away from the bear) telling you it’s not safe.
Think about whether the concerns you have are real or imaginary. Often, we build things up in our minds and imagine scenarios until we talk ourselves out of something, just in case something bad may happen…
This can often lead to “analysis paralysis” – I love that expression!
It basically describes that place where you start overanalysing potential outcomes or overthink a situation to the point where you are unable to go forward, make a decision or find a solution.
And there you are – stuck!
Great leaders need to understand that the cost of indecision in the face of uncertainty can outweigh the potential risks. So, accept your vulnerability and draw on your talent and knowledge to reach for your goals.
Then, of course, it’s time to…
Practice What You Preach
Great leaders don’t just talk it; they walk it.
Living your values, speaking out about difficult situations and embracing your self-belief will set you ahead of others and establish you as a truly great leader.
Your mindset and thought process are critical in creating positive feelings that translate into actions that will achieve results for you.
Holding true to your belief will allow you to become accountable and reliable while enabling you to be a great role model for others and avoid the stagnation of remaining firmly entrenched in your comfort zone.
So, lead from the front, with determination and an open mind.
If you haven’t already, ask yourself the question when you last felt uncomfortable as a leader? The answer is most likely every day.
That’s because, as a leader, you need to go first. And that means accepting a level of discomfort in order to forge a pathway where others will be inspired to follow.
You may suffer setbacks. These can be to the detriment of yourself…and sometimes others.
But to exhibit true courage, you need to ignore that bit of your brain that’s craving comfort and stability.
I firmly believe the secret to becoming a truly great leader lies in the individual’s ability to be self-aware, focused, committed to their beliefs and accountable for their mistakes.
They are prepared to risk their pride and status in order to do their best for their team.
So, have the courage to leave your comfort zone behind and embrace the dizzy heights of achievement that challenge can bring.
That’s what it takes to attain great leadership.
So, until next time this is Rachel saying bye for now.
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