Courageous Leadership Key #4: Commit

Once you have decided to change…to move forward in a different direction, then the fourth part of courageous leadership is to commit. To what? Action.

This is step where most people get stalled because they fail to take action toward their goals. Why? Usually it’s due to fear. Fear of failure. Fear of risk. Fear of inadequacy. There are a lot of fears that hold us back, and they hold us back because we allow them to.

idea-action-chart.jpgCourageous leaders are not absent of fear in their life; however, they are able move forward in spite of those fears. Why? Because they know who they are, where they are going, and what is most important. There is power in clarity, and when you get clear about these three things, you can move forward with decisive action and commitment.

How can you take action that is in line with your core ideology? I like to use 90-day goals, setting one at a time. This helps create focus around the thing that is most important, right now.

1)      Set a 90-day goal that is alignment with your purpose and vision.

2)      Identify 3-4 key objectives that will help you achieve this goal.

3)      List 3-4 actionable items that can be implemented to achieve your objectives.

4)      Use metrics to measure progress toward your objectives & your goal.

5)      Do this every 90 days.

That’s it! Write it down somewhere and review it daily to help keep you on track.

Watch part four of my talk on courageous leadership to learn more about how to take decisive action and move forward with courage.

Courageous Leadership Key #2: Confront

courageIn his classic business book Good to Great, Jim Collins recounts the story of Admiral James Stockdale, who was the highest ranking naval officer held as a POW during the Vietnam War. Despite years of torture and deprivation, Stockdale was able to maintain the discipline to confront the facts of his current reality, while at the same time having faith that he would prevail in the end despite his current circumstances. Collins came to describe this mentality as the Stockdale Paradox.

Courageous leaders, like Admiral Stockdale, are able to unequivocally confront the facts of their current reality with objectivity and honesty. Why is this important?  Because too many leaders today are afraid to face reality and, as a result, end up convincing themselves that everything is fine when it’s actually not.

When leaders create a false sense of reality in their organization, a few detrimental things happen:

1)      Employees lose trust and belief in their leader.

2)      Morale and productivity declines.

3)      Good people leave.

4)      The organization suffers.

Courageous leaders are honest with their people, telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. People respond to and appreciate this level of transparency. On the flip side, they can become cynical and jaded when leaders try to perpetuate a reality that does not exist.

So you might be wondering, “How do I confront my current reality?”

First, be honest with yourself by doing an objective analysis of your current situation. Determine where you are in relation to your purpose, vision, and long-term goals.

Second, in addition to being honest with yourself, you need someone in your life who can tell you the truth without fear of how you might react. You need someone who can hold you accountable.

Finally, realize that your current circumstances do not define your future. All too often we fail to confront reality because we think things will always be like they are now. We are afraid to face it. As a result, nothing changes.


Need some more help with understanding this concept? Below is a video of me speaking on this topic to a group recently:

Courageous Leadership Key #1: Clarify

The first step in courageous leadership development is to “clarify the core.” If you have read any of my recent posts, you know what I am referring to—clarifying your core ideology, or foundation. Specifically, this involves the clarification of your purpose, vision, and values.

Ask yourself three questions:

Why do I exist? (purpose) – Your personal purpose statement helps you to focus on the things that are most important instead of trying to be all things to all people.

Where am I going? (vision) – Your personal vision guides you and helps you set long-term goals that are aligned with your purpose.

How do I behave based on what I believe? (values) – Your core values provide you with the ability to make clear decisions and lead with conviction.

You might be wondering why it takes courage to answer these questions. It takes courage because it requires you to stand for something, to put yourself out there, to take some risks.

It takes courage to tell others and even your friends, “I know there is something bigger for me to accomplish in life, and I am going to focus on pursuing it, even if it involves the potential for failure.”

It takes courage to say no sometimes, and clarifying your core means that you will have to say no to some things that are out of alignment with your core ideology and beliefs.

With clarity comes focus, and with focus comes the responsibility to say no when the opportunity does not fit with who you are, where you are going, and what you believe in.

To learn more about this first key to courageous leadership, you can watch this video of me speaking on this topic: