Archives For courage

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

~ Steve Jobs, Address to Sanford graduates

Why Leaders Fail

February 23, 2016 — Leave a comment
Leadership failure can be tied to a number of issues and/or behaviors.  But, I think it can be best summed up by identifying four separate and distinct characteristics that can be the precursor to leadership failure. If the leader lacks one or all of the following traits it can and most likely will lead to their demise.

The leader lacks the moral and/or ethical courage to do the “right thing” will eventually fail as a leader. This can include their failure to deal with a problem employee, confront behavior which could be sexist or racial in nature, or blow the whistle on illegal or unethical practices.  It requires courage to lead and there are times the leader must reach deep down inside themselves to a place that they did not know existed, to find the courage to do what’s right. Leadership is not an observers sport, it requires the leader to be involved and make the difficult calls he or she needs to make (and is paid to make) to get the job done.

The leader must be competent as a leader and they must possess a fundamental understanding of their profession.  The leader does not need to be an expert in their field however they need to know how to lead people who are the experts.  Leadership is an art not a science.  And, like all artists the longer you study art and practice your craft the better you will become.

A leader who lacks compassion is an empty vessel and may be emotionally bankrupt.  They can neither feel for, nor understand, the difficult times an employee may be going through.  Furthermore many simply don’t care.  Employees will abandon this leader at their first opportunity. Leaders often struggle with the need to be compassionate and still get the work accomplished.  This is a difficult balancing act which must be mastered by the leader if they are to be effective.

Commitment does not begin at 8:00 A.M. and end at 5:00 P.M., it’s 24/7 and it entails doing your job as a leader, taking care of your employees, and surpassing the goals and objectives of company you work for. Careers are not built on an 8 to 5 schedule.  I would go as far to say that nothing spectacular happens between 8 and 5.  Spectacular accomplishments are conceived long after everyone else goes home and they are brought to life during regular scheduled work hours.

Of the four traits, which is the most important? They are all important and critical to the success of any leader. I don’t believe you can be lacking in any one of these traits and still succeed as a leader.

* This is an excerpt from The Leader As A Linking Pin To Management, a Mastering Leadership Skills seminar.

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.” ~Mary Ann Brussat

I really like this quote, especially this time of year when spring is reminding us how something that looks dead comes back to life to be even better than the previous season. I look outside my window now and see the trees and bushes sprouting forth with new life and the grass is turning green. Well except where my two dogs took care of business or dug holes looking for peanuts that the squirrels hid last fall.

The birds are gathering nesting material to bring new lives into the world, the squirrels stop looking for food for a couple of minutes to ‘play’ with their partner.

If spring is the time when nature renews, when is yours?

Is it the same time as nature, when the birds fly back north and the flowers start to bloom? Maybe it’s in the fall when things slow down and it’s time to get ready for winter and learning since you stay inside more?

Maybe you’re happy with who you really are. Is that the way you feel or is that the way you want to feel. Everyone can improve in something or learn something new.

I think that some folks don’t renew because it’s either too hard or, why bother. Is it hard to believe that the reason why we don’t is because we don’t believe we can?

What happens in nature when there’s a devastating disaster like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or fire? The renewal of life can be seen quickly after a prairie fire, but not after the other disasters. Is it because mankind is affected? How would nature renew itself after these major disasters?

Have you ever had a personal disaster that made you renew yourself? People face disaster all the time. It seems like the ones who embrace it and become better for it are much happier in the long run than those who just keep complaining about why it happened to them.

How do you react after major disasters? How do you renew yourself after encountering problems?

Sunset over Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.A.

© jovannig – Fotolia

“People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”
~ William Brown

When you think of the three levels of courage; physical, moral, and divine, you can understand how this quote fits. People may achieve leadership positions by physical courage. Those are your intimidating bosses that use their titles to control you with ‘carrot and stick’ motivation philosophies. How often do these “leaders” keep those positions, hopefully not long, unless they can intimidate their boss?

Leaders with moral courage may not even be the boss, but the person the boss despises. They’re the ones that try to help the boss see their point of view when it benefits everyone, not just them. If they start to use their position to benefit themselves they slip back down to physical courage. Moral courage focuses on what’s best for the many, not yourself.

That’s why people follow morally courageous leaders. They know they have their best interests in mind. They go first and are the soldiers who lead the charge or the whistle blower employee who reports their company for unethical or illegal activities.

Leaders who have had the biggest impact on the world have reached divine courage as discussed by James Allen;

“The physically courageous man conquers another in a fight; the morally courageous man conquers the opinions of many men, and wins thousands to his cause; but the divinely courageous man conquers the world, and his conquest is one of blessedness and peace, and not of bloodshed or party strife.”

There are not many who have changed the world and it’s unfortunate that at times their full impact doesn’t come until after their gone. But they are honored as givers of hope and peace, not destruction and war.

Can you think of anyone alive today that is at this level or could achieve it?

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
~ John Maxwell