Leadership Quality #6: Courage – One Person with Courage is a Majority

Courage is fear that has said its prayers – Karl Barth, Swiss Theologian

Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others”.

As you approach the tough decisions that challenge you as a leader, recognise these truths about courage:

  1. Courage begins with an inward battle – All the significant battles are waged within the self. Every test you face as a leader begins within you. The test of courage is no different. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s doing what you are afraid to do. It’s having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory.
  2. Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over – Great leaders have good people skills and they can get people to compromise and work together, however, they can also take a stand when needed. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr declared ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’. Courage deals with principle and not perception. If you don’t have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you’ll not be an effective leader. Your dedication to potential must remain stronger than your desire to appease others.
  3. Courage in a leader inspires commitment from followers – Courage is contagious! A show of courage by any person encourages others, however, a show of courage by a leader inspires. It makes people want to follow him or her. Consider that ‘Leadership is the expression of courage that compels people to do the right thing’ (Jim Mellado).
  4. Your life expands in proportion to your courage – Fear limits a leader. Courage gives you a good beginning, but it also provides a better future. It’s ironic that those who don’t have the courage to take risks and those who do experience the same amount of fear in life. The only difference is those who don’t take risks tend to worry about trivial things. So if you’re going to have to overcome your fears and doubts, you may as well make it count! ‘Fear not that your life will come to an end, but that it will never have a beginning’ (John Henry Newman).


How do you handle fear?  Do you embrace it? Are stretching experiences a regular part of your daily life? Or have you retreated so far into your comfort zone that you don’t ever even feel fear?

What changes might you make to develop a spirit of courage in your life?

To improve your courage, do the following:

  • Face the music – Go out and do something stretching simply for the sake of growing in courage. It matters less whether you choose sky-diving or public speaking, white-water rafting or performing in a play, and more that you face a genuine fear.
  • Talk to that person – Most people are avoiding confrontation with someone in their lives – be it a colleague, a relative or an employee. Talk to that person this week. Don’t dump on them, or be rude, however, speak the truth in love.
  • Take a giant step – Maybe you’ve been afraid to make a career move, or start that business; now is the time to face up to it. Take the time to really look at it. Talk to your spouse, your mentor, coach or trusted friend. If it’s the right thing to do, then do it!

A courageous act often brings unexpected positive results – a personal share.

It’s been said that the best self-development tool is being an entrepreneur and this year I’ve dug deep and found the courage to take actions that have integrity for me; even if there have been big financial implications. Out of that have come my online group coaching programmes which have brought both me, and my participants so much joy and development.

It seems apt that the final one for 2018 is on the topic of Courageous Conversations. If empowering yourself to speak up is of interest to you, then find more details here.

Courage is acknowledging your fear and acting anyway…what are you taking on this week?

Part 6 of our Leadership Series: Leadership is an Inside Job, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader


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