Embracing Courage: Why Executive Leaders Must Step Up to Today's Business ChallengesJune 01, 2023
In the ever-changing world of business, executive leaders face an array of challenges that demand more than just traditional leadership skills. The business landscape today is no walk in the park. With technological advancements, geopolitical shifts, environmental concerns, and societal expectations, executive leaders are dealing with a whirlwind of complexity. It's no longer enough to play it safe or stick to the status quo. These challenges call for leaders who are ready to take risks, challenge norms, and adapt to multifaceted problems. In short, courage has become a non-negotiable attribute for leaders. In this article, we'll explore why courage is so important for executive leaders and how best to develop and nurture courage in ourselves.
But first a definition: When we talk about courage in executive leadership, we're not just talking about bravery or taking blind risks, but rather about steadfastly embracing one's own essence. It entails mastering fear rather than avoiding it. Derived from the French word "corps," courage embodies the capacity to wholeheartedly stand by the truth within oneself, at the very core of one's being. It's about having the guts to act with conviction, resilience, and authenticity in the face of uncertainty and adversity.
By taking a stand, we gain agency over our path, transcending external and societal expectations. We choose courage. Choose your mental state and have agency over it. Executive presence means remaining calm and reasonable and having courage in any situation, serving you well particularly as you navigate waves of change.
~Ann-Marie Archer, Roadmap To Action, 2023
Why courage? Courageous leaders are the ones who aren't afraid to shake things up, make tough decisions, and communicate transparently. They create an environment that fosters innovation and empowers their teams to contribute their best. Courage enables leaders to step outside their comfort zones, to face and embrace challenges head-on. Whether it's making tough decisions, or leading through periods of change, courage allows leaders to navigate adversity with resilience and determination. By demonstrating courage in the face of challenges, leaders inspire and motivate their teams to persevere and overcome obstacles.
In a courageous display of personal and professional growth, one of my coaching clients is embarking on a challenging career decision. Despite the inherent risks, she is considering a new role that promises immense learning opportunities and visibility to senior leadership, including the renowned leader of a prominent tech giant. Stepping out of her comfort zone, she recognizes the potential for both success and failure in this highly visible position. As she takes on the responsibility of championing a critical device, she is using the first 90 days to immerse herself in the initiative, understand the technology, and connect with the VPs and SVPs who hold influence in the organization. Her proactive approach involves asking insightful questions to uncover blind spots and gather the knowledge necessary for the project's success. With aspirations of promotion and a leap from a Director to a VP/SVP level, she courageously embraces the fact that she will bear the ultimate responsibility for product-related decisions. By choosing discomfort over complacency, she exemplifies her commitment to personal growth and the pursuit of excellence.
Courage is a skill that leaders can develop. By trying hard things, learning from successes and failures, and gaining insights, individuals can expand their comfort zones and cultivate courage. It's a cycle of setting goals, taking action, and using experiences to fuel courage for future challenges. Courageous leaders step into the hard things - maybe they do really well and maybe they fail the first time. Failure can bring even more learnings! Leaders take the insight and say, "ok, what am I going to do differently next time?" Courage comes from a leader's commitment to their core values.
Courage is not something you're born with; Courage is a choice. Courage is remembering who you are.
~Ann-Marie Archer, 2023
Courageous leaders lead by example and demonstrate authenticity and integrity in their actions. They are willing to stand up for what they believe in, even when it's unpopular or challenging. By showing vulnerability and being true to themselves, they create a sense of trust and authenticity within their teams and organizations. When employees see their leaders being courageous and authentic, they are more likely to trust their judgment, follow their lead, and feel empowered to bring their whole selves to work. Courage is also a Catalyst for Economic Resilience: In today's world, businesses need to be resilient to thrive. Courageous executive leaders inspire their teams to embrace change and adapt to economic challenges swiftly. They encourage a culture of experimentation, learning, and continuous improvement. These leaders have the courage to make bold strategic choices, launch transformative initiatives, and pivot business models to navigate the ever-shifting market dynamics successfully.
This week I will be stepping into courage as I work on my book. Writing a book takes courage as it entails vulnerability, the willingness to share personal experiences or ideas, and the risk of criticism or rejection. It is a bold act of putting oneself out there, defying self-doubt, and embracing the possibility of making a meaningful impact on readers. I'm making a conscious choice to step outside of my comfort zone and develop my courage for writing. With each chapter, I am developing more confidence. Follow our LinkedIn page for more insights on courage in leadership. Connect with us to learn more.