Courage. This leadership attribute comes up in many different ways. We talk about having those fierce conversations with peers, employees and our own superiors. We talk about having the conviction to move ahead in the face of adversity. It all adds up to courage. According to the on-line Merriam Webster Dictionary:
Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
That seems to pretty much fit what courage means to me and describes how I felt when I was having to summon courage myself. While it wasn’t an everyday occurrence, there were times in my career when I believed I had to take an unpopular stand on a project or personnel issue. It was never comfortable. I was sometimes overruled but mostly supported by my executive team when I had to make those decisions. Still, even with the support, the road was never easy. I’m thinking especially about the necessary business process changes required as we implemented a new ERP system in a high transaction business. It was not fun. But we made the changes and it has turned out for the best.
I like David Marquet’s definition of courage:
Courage means we choose to do the right thing, even if it may be uncomfortable. It means not just doing or saying what subordinates, peers, or superiors want to hear. It means admitting mistakes, even if ugly.
Business leaders who understand how to scale their operations know they have to build leaders at every level of their organizations. Therefore, since being courageous is part of being a leader, they make sure to consciously build admiration for courage into the organizational culture.