You are probably a person with great skills and will, but why you do not succeed in what you do? What’s the mistake? What’s wrong with you? Maybe what you have is a Lack of. It’s a lack of something. In our first two articles of this series, we talked about a lack of “priorities”, a lack of “team” and a lack of “listening”. Now we are going to talk about “A lack of ” courage.
A lack of courage
You can be a genius and have a great idea, but if you do not have the courage to propose it with clarity it will never become something real and will be jailed in your mind. How many geniuses in history will have been forgotten if they did not dare to challenge the current ideology? It is especially those breaking ideas that need a lot of courage to create a new system. It is thanks to those courageous people if some inventions have brought development. It is in every field, even in human relations, you need courage to start and develop a relationship of friendship or love. You need the courage to be a leader. You need the courage to overcome negative assessment on your projects and welcome positive suggestions. Think about any real leader or change-makers of the past. There is among them anyone without courage?
Courage for dialogue
Otto Sharmer defines 4 levels of meeting: 1) Downloading (talking nice, politeness, you say what the others want you to say; no value added); 2) Debate (Talking tough/ rule revealing – everybody is blind in his/her position; just a little more info than level 1); 3) Dialogue (Inquiry/rule reacting – the participants listen to others’ point of view and learn from them); 4) Presencing (collective creating/rule generating; the dialogue generate new way of looking at things). To come to move from Downloading to Presencing (the most effective one) you need courage. Without courage, we will be stuck at the first level. With courage, but lack of openness we will be stuck at the second level. Only a mix f courage and openness can bring to true leadership, the one that can be found in the third and fourth level of meeting and conversing.
Source: Otto Scharmer, Theory U
The future of leadership is courage
When interviewing creative leaders from all over the world Brené Brown at NBF Helsinki was asking what is the future of leadership. The striking result was that every single leader gave the same answer regardless of business or country: the future of leadership is courage. – We are in desperate need of braver leaders and more courageous cultures since we simply cannot address the problems we´re facing today without more courage. When getting into the subject Brown asked what are the skills that overpin the courage, but they couldn´t identify what courage looks like. So, she turned the question upside down and asked what does the absence of courage look like. This is what came out from the responses:
- Lack of honesty. The lack of ability to have honest tough conversations
- Lack of sensing. The lack of attending to the feelings and fears that are driving bad behavior in the organization
- Lack of determination. Being stuck in setbacks
- Lack of patience and learning. No courage to stay in the problem (to learn) since we are so eager to solve the problems quickly
- Lack of a balanced and effective team. Organizations that are not built on inclusivity, diversity and equity
- Lack of a positive approach. Shame and blame.
Do not armour up when in fear: getting it right vs being right
When you´re in fear do you armour up? We put our armour up because we don´t want to get our hearts hurt. Armour has a lot of different forms: perfectionism, scarcity, cynicism, hustling for our worth. Armoured leaders put more importance on being right, courageous leaders put more importance on getting it right. – There´s a big difference in the need to be right compared to the need of getting it right.
Brené Brown at NBF Helsinki introduced four skill sets you need to build in order to grow your courage:
- Rumbling with vulnerability: There is no courage without vulnerability. The best transformational leaders don´t have the best answers but instead the best questions.
- Living into our values (Do, bot just speak!): It is better not to have values if they are not translated into real behaviours. Otherwise, they mean nothing.
- Trust: Trust you. You cannot be courageous if you do not trust yourself.
- Learning to rise: No one is perfect. Courage means being ready to mistake and learn from your mistakes.
We cannot get where we want without being brave and we cannot be brave without being vulnerable. Vulnerability is not the reason to get armoured. You need to use it, face it and overcome it. It’s a chance to grow. It’s the source of your courage, the courage to change. It is the time to take the armour off, get curious, and grow!
Now you can choose: you can do everything business as usual, to be right or you can start questioning and getting it right. Courage is one of the most important skills future leaders need because we are in a period of transition from an unsustainable to a sustainable society. Only people who can thin differently and are enough brave to bring on their ideas can be really effective leaders. So be courageous, take your armor off, follow your dream, make mistakes and learn, learn, and learn in order to rise and get it done!