Courage and leadership. Have you ever put those two words together before when it comes to business (or any business, come to that)? Probably not. Courage and leadership as a combination tends to be reserved for those in the military, in jobs that require lives to be put on the line such as the police force or fire service, or for those that require people to see the very worst of human suffering like doctors and nurses.
And while these brave souls do show courage and they do show leadership, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, that doesn’t mean that a business leader can’t do both too. Although it isn’t necessarily in the same league, when it comes to the business, courage and leadership are essential tools and can mean the difference between success and failure especially now during difficult times.
Every business owner has courage. They wouldn’t have taken on the task if they didn’t. Courage means doing something despite the risk that it holds — and running a business has risks coming from every direction. And of course, courage is the thing we need if we are going to overcome our fears and push forward, doing more, trying new things, experimenting and experiencing what business can really be like and what it can give us. Without courage, business isn’t possible. You can start, but you won’t end happily ever after; you’ll be too afraid to try.
Think of all the risks that you might have taken or intend to take in your business. If you’ve ever opened up in a new location, taken on an inexperienced employee because you saw potential, tried a new piece of equipment before any of your competitors, expanded your product range, or a multitude of other business ideas and decisions, you’ll have shown courage. After all, the bigger the reward, the bigger the risk of failure, but your business won’t grow without reaching for these rewards.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. — Nelson Mandela
So where does the leadership aspect come into things? We can see how much courage a business owner must have, but does leadership come from courage? Are the two really linked? The answer is yes if you are the kind of leader who inspires others.
The best kind of leader is one who people look up to; one who people want to follow and emulate. What are you showing your staff, your clients, your suppliers, your friends and family if you don’t try new things in your business? You’re showing them that you aren’t willing to face your fears, you aren’t courageous, you aren’t the kind of leader who they want to be around.
This is a good way to lose high producing and loyal staff members who, despite liking their job and liking you as a person, just can’t get behind you as a leader. They want to work somewhere that’s going places; they want to be part of the success. If nothing ever changes because the business owner (you) hasn’t got the courage to be a good leader and to push everyone to the next level, why should they stay? They have their own careers and goals to think about too.
Learn To Be Courageous
Although some people are simply more courageous by nature, the good news is this is a skill that you can learn, and one that, once you have it, will stand you in good stead for a long time to come. Once you get over your initial fear and see that you can try new things for the good of your business, your courage will even grow. If you feel you need to be more courageous, here are some ways to learn this admirable and essential (for business and life) trait.
- Believe In Yourself
There is no point in faking courage. You need to truly believe that what you are doing is the right thing, that it will work, and that it will benefit the business, and you. You might have to put your faith in other people at times such as employees or suppliers, and that’s difficult for someone who likes to be in control; it’s crucial though.
- Get Help
No matter how good a leader you might be, you can’t do everything by yourself. Use your leadership skills to empower others to use their skills and talents to help you succeed. The only thing that will happen if you try to do everything by yourself is that you’ll burn out and you won’t achieve your goals.
- Look At The Negative
It’s easy to shy away from the negatives in your business and focus on the positives. It’s more enjoyable that way, and it makes for a simpler life. It doesn’t make for a successful business though; if the negatives are never addressed, they will continue to be an issue, no matter how successful you become.
- Accept Responsibility
No one is perfect and being the business owners doesn’t mean you can’t get things wrong. The key is taking responsibility for your mistakes and learning from them. Can you see that this takes courage? But that’s a good thing; it will show your customers and your employees that you are human, and that’s a positive — it’s much better to buy from a real person than a faceless company.
- Praise Your Staff
Giving credit where it is due may not seem like a courageous thing to do, but in reality, it is. It’s far easier to stay silent and say and do nothing but speaking up and giving praise requires you to make changes, even if those changes are simply to your normal routine. This is courageous, and it’s a great start when you’re trying to learn to be braver in business.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. — Maya Angelou