Five Strategies To Help You Lead With Courage In A World Of Unknowns
When I look back over the decades I have worked with small business owners and team leaders, there is one essential element that sets apart the high performers from all the rest: Those that attract and retain the best talent have a deep belief and a powerful mindset that once they become a leader, their #1 responsibility is to develop their people.
So, what happens if you aren’t good at the “people stuff”? Well, it’s tricky. Many talented and successful performers get placed in leadership roles who haven’t had the training and development to be good leaders. Some believe that if you are good at sales, or good at business planning and strategy development, that the people stuff will come naturally to you – but we all know that isn’t the case. Leadership is hard. In fact, I’ve come to believe that it takes a lot of courage to throw yourself into a role where your most important responsibility is to lead and inspire others.
In today’s noisy world, especially this year when we are fighting a world pandemic and life as we’ve known it has been turned upside down, it requires daily intention, focus and a bit of grit to keep things in balance for ourselves so we can help those that we serve do the same. In Oprah’s Class of 2020 commencement address, she said that each of us are being called to “temper the parts of us that must fall away” and to “make peace with the discomfort of stepping into the unknown.” It was an important speech for all of us, because it reminds us that Leadership is not the responsibility of the few. It’s the responsibility of anyone with the courage to act on it. And this can be very uncomfortable for some of us.
Today more than ever we have to make peace with discomfort and dealing with unknowns, and find the courage to lead with hope. In my daily conversations with brave and courageous leaders, I see some critical themes that help them stay focused. Here are 5 strategies that might make it easier for you to move forward with a little more ease:
- Embrace Vulnerability
If we know that Courage is ignited when we confront our deepest fears, it’s easier not to deny them. I witness my clients finding the courage to be raw, open and transparent with me when they are feeling the most “stuck”, and it’s like watching the floodgates open wide when they realize they don’t have to tackle their issues alone. I’ve learned that when you open yourself to the full spectrum of human emotion, you gain access to your deepest source of strength and create stronger bonds with others. It also gives permission to those you lead to do the same. Great leadership requires vulnerability, and often times you just have to go first.
- Speak Your Truth
There is nothing more powerful than being a truth-teller, even when it’s hard. Get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations, with yourself and your people. Conversations are the currency of influence, and unfortunately, the least comfortable are often the most critical. Speak your truth with respect, and find the courage to lead those conversations that you need to be having. Whether it completely changes the trajectory of your future or simply opens up communication that is needed, a single conversation can make all the difference between a wish and a new reality. As leaders, we have to be better at this.
- Take Responsibility
I often see my clients dealing with circumstances they didn’t create, but those with courage take ownership in dealing with them directly. Blaming others, avoiding the situation, self-pity and excuses are all tempting strategies. But only by taking 100% ownership for what is not working – in your relationships, work, and world – will you have the ability to improve things.
- Create a Bold Vision with a Big Why
Now is the time to set your sights on a vision that aligns with your deepest values and compels you into bold, purposeful action, even if there is a risk of failure. It takes courage to do things that others won’t do, and if your big WHY is clear, frankly, it doesn’t matter. Some of my clients are having record-breaking years because of their mindset and focus on their vision. If we tend to fail more from timidity than over daring, maybe it’s time to change your story.
- Be Humble
The quest for perfectionism and pride in always trying to be “right” stifles creativity and possibilities. What I’m discovering is that being open to “unlearning” what you think you know so you can ‘relearn’ what you need to know is critical in today’s world. Staying open and having a curious mind can feel vulnerable, but no one has a monopoly on wisdom. The only constant we can count on is change, so give yourself a break and stay curious as a courageous leader.
It takes a lot of courage to lead others, but there are so many gifts for the unfolding when you embrace this privilege. Don’t let yourself feel lonely or isolated as a leader of your team, open your heart to the unknowns and find the courage to do the things that most people will never do; Engage, Lead, and Inspire others. Be grateful for the opportunity to expand your life in all ways. This isn’t a dress rehearsal; this is your one precious life. Find the courage to embrace it fully and step boldly into it all. A breakthrough could be waiting for you.
You want a better team? Be a better leader. And don’t forget, you don’t have to do it alone.
This is the 6th of six in a series of Leadership Lessons that I will be posting over the next few weeks…
Whether you are looking for coaching or you would like help with a team event…
call me direct at (425) 241-4855.