The Courage to Exercise Leadership
A scene from the movie 3 Kings starring George Clooney:
“You’re scared, right?”
“The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared s***less of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.”
“That’s a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.”
“I know. That’s the way it works.”
It can be argued that courage is the single greatest barrier in exercising leadership. Great leaders are made impressive not by what they are doing but the fact they are doing it at all. The principle of courage is not an inspirational point but simple logic; you reap the benefits of what you actually do, not what you hope to get around to doing some day if it is convenient and you are not too busy.
Choosing to exercise leadership when you don’t have authority is an acute edge for most of us, an edge that is sharpened if we try to lead alone. If you choose to lead, it will help you recognize what your blind spots are, what pushes your buttons, and what shuts down your critical thinking. You will have many opportunities to face those moments. In these instances, it is not about being perfect; it is about how long it takes you to get back in the saddle when you get tossed off your horse.
Your response time is shortened by following a practice of self-reflection, and building alliances with people who will tell you the truth, help you think through hard decisions, and support not just your action but help you grow to soften that sharpened edge.
Leading is a road best travelled with others.