By darrell l

By Darrell L. Browning

Some may think that courageous leadership is simply taking action. Actually, courageous leadership includes both behaviors and reflective questions leaders must ask themselves to be effective. The first question a leader should ask is: What Do I Really Care About? The answer to this question helps leaders define and decide where they are going. Leaders must provide direction, and that’s something that requires forethought. No leader exists in a vacuum. For that reason, the next question should be: How Do the People You are Leading See It? Courageous leaders put themselves in the shoes of those they lead. They eat the same bread and, in doing so, learn what it is that they need to communicate. This question also gets leaders out of the offices of their own head.

Courageous leaders are advised to ask the next question with conviction: Am I Accurate? Good leaders test feelings as well as data; facts as well as innuendo. Courageous leaders ask questions to ensure that those they lead understand them–and vice versa. Doing this stops leaders from making incorrect assumptions. Leaders test assumptions–they don’t make them.

A final question leaders should ask is: What is the Worst that Can Happen? This allows leaders to take risks. If the worst is not that bad, take the risk. If it is, you may need to rethink what you are doing. Courageous leaders always take risks, but never blindly. Questions aside, courageous leaders also need to watch for courage in others.

Courage, like fear, is often contagious. If you find yourself sitting in a Board Meeting and someone says something courageous, add your idea and comment. Don’t be shy. No matter how visionary or much risk leaders are personally willing to take the cardinal behavior leaders need to adhere to is to Stay Legal and Stay Safe. It’s really all about compliance and exhibiting leadership by protecting resources and avoiding unnecessary risks.

Courageous leaders should also Expect People to Try to Modify Your Behavior. Everybody is trying to influence everyone else. Courageous leaders must be prepared to respond to push backs from direct reports. Do your thinking ahead of time. Be like a palm tree, but don’t let your roots get pulled out.

Some say that people never change and to that we add most aspects of courageous leadership are also constant. Courageous leaders ask the right questions and back that up with tried-and-true behaviors. It’s more difficult than one might expect, but well worth the investment.

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© BrowningLaFrankie 2008

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