Being a brave leader is hard! I most certainly didn’t get it right all the time. I don’t think anyone does.
The aim has to be to do what you think is right, and when you get it wrong, face up to it and learn from the experience.
You have to be prepared to accept that you won’t get it right all the time, you have to be prepared to ADMIT you got it wrong.
Being brave in the face of all the challenges you will face won’t come easily. At times you will want to run screaming to the hills! Don’t think you are on your own – you definitely are not!
So, what does great ‘brave ‘ leadership look like?
In my opinion it looks pretty much like you’d expect any great human to behave. It’s how you’d hope we could all treat each other. It’s about standing up for what is right, even when that feels uncomfortable. For sure, there are ways of doing this which don’t instantly get you sacked. If you keep kindness in your heart and remember these key points then you will be on the right track.
Stand up for your team – even when things are not going great
Hanging your team out to dry, even if things are going badly, is not the way to go. Your team need you to support them to get better and if they know you are not on their side morale will drop like a stone. Once that happens you will struggle to improve anything.
Trust between you and your team is vital. If your team feels that you will pay a blame game in the face of trouble, you will reduce the likelihood of your team being creative and courageous.
Accept failure, in yourself and your team as a stepping stone to success. Don’t talk badly of the team to others. If a peer is talking badly of your team, find out what the issue is and work to resolve it.
Make sure the people who stick with you know how much you appreciate them. You cannot be a success on your own. You need your team, maybe more than they need you.
Doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it proves you as reliable and trustworthy. Do the right thing even when no one is watching.
Have those difficult conversations.
Sometimes you are going to have to do things which are not fun. Talking to someone about their failing performance, poor attendance, or bad attitude, is not pleasant. But, you have to do it. You can’t let things drag on. And, you must treat that person with kindness, even if you are feeling very frustrated with them. The conversation is not about you, it’s about them, so don’t bring your feelings into it. You need to get to a place where they understand that the conversation is necessary, and improvement required.
Brave leaders are the ones who tackle issues quickly, kindly and decisively. You cannot allow for important issues to not be addressed.
The rest of your team have to see you taking action when action is necessary.
Respect others – and yourself
It always comes back to respect, not just for others but also for yourself. You need to be clear on your own values whist respecting others.
Listen to your team. Accept that you don’t know it all and hear what others have to say. And, see things from others perspectives.
You may still disagree but will be doing so from an informed position.
Sometimes you will have to be prepared to stand up and be counted. If you are asked to do something which does not sit well with you, even after having heard all the reasons why you should, then you may have to say no. In these cases it is always helpful if you can state what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
Strive for excellence over perfection
We work in a very uncertain world. Leaders have to be able to make bold decisions amid the uncertainty and striving for perfection will hold you back.
Accept the uncertainty. Plan where you can but be prepared for curve balls and the need to adapt quickly.
Brave leaders know that things will not always be perfect. They will accept that sometimes ‘good enough’ is enough.
Be striving for excellence they will have created the right environment for ‘good enough’ to be very good indeed. It is in these environments that people thrive because they stop being afraid. Imperfection is accepted and risks can be taken. Creative minds will flourish. Fear of getting things badly wrong reduce. Often this is when something magical happens.
Be prepared to accept your vulnerabilities
You can’t be a brave leader unless you accept your vulnerabilities and love yourself anyway.
We are all a ‘work in progress’ and to be your best you have to recognise this.
Self-awareness and self-love are the most important factors in our efforts to be human leaders.
But, understanding ourselves and why we react to certain things does not give us an excuse for bad behaviour. Rather, it gives us a place to focus our learning and development.
Is it even possible to be in a leadership role and not feel vulnerable?
Leadership roles require us to step up and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. There is no certainty that we will succeed. We have to rely on and trust other people.
Owning our vulnerablity whilst leading takes bravery.
The idea that vulnerability is a weakness is outdated and extremely unhelpful.
Vulnerability isn’t about exposing all of our deepest fears. It’s about sharing what is appropriate in the workplace. It’s about using your vulnerabilities to develop and grow, and creating an environment where others can do the same.
If you need coaching support on any leadership issues in your role then I can help. With 30 plus years experience and a passion for helping people to increase confidence in their role I have solutions to the problems you face.