Courageous Leadership - RegInsights

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We live in a world where no one is in charge. The notion of sovereignty has taken on new dimensions. At its heart, authority describes the authority to give oneself, be that a country, an organisation, or oneself. At the global level, climate change and involuntary migration demand international co-operation beyond the capability of individual nation-states, and this is against the background of a retreat from globalisation and internationalism.

Many technology firms dwarf the economic performance of smaller nations and take decisions with wide and deep implications, without being accountable to a constituency other than the managers and owners. At the individual level, personal sovereignty has been stressed by conspiracy theories, ideological extremism, and abandonment of human rights.

We need leaders with the courage to help us negotiate this awkward, unruly world. We need leaders, who despite being fearful, still stand up for what is right. We need leaders who resolutely persevere with dignity in the face of adversity. Let’s explore courageous leadership in greater detail.

Be committed to a purpose
Your purpose, individual and organisational, is the wellspring of energy that will drive you to courageously go after your goals. Purpose is critical to both individual and organisational success. Courageous leaders are very clear about their personal and work goals. They send out a consistent message and their teams understand and work in unison and support.

Purpose acts like a magnet — it pulls you in the right direction. A clear purpose for yourself and your organisation gives you a destination to travel towards, and you don’t spend time on distractions. Courageous leaders with a strong purpose help us to make a leap of faith and be part of creating a better world.
Be authentic
Authenticity is the operational value of being and projecting who you are. Authenticity summarises notions of genuineness, not a copy. It points to the complete congruence between personal values and external behaviour. Authenticity is foundational to courageous leadership. An authentic leader is essential for job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and workplace happiness. It also improves employee trust and enhances performance.

Emotional Intelligence
Members of the Regenesys family will not be strangers to emotional intelligence. Courageous leaders embrace emotional intelligence to connect with, inspire and unite their teams. Emotionally intelligent leaders are willing and able to change, and this promotes feelings of trustworthiness among team members. Teams want to work with a leader who is trusted and connected to them. In a world where the notion of being in change is watered down, an emotionally intelligent leader will always outperform one who is not.

Be resilient
Resilience is the ability to pick yourself up when life has knocked you down. It’s the inner conviction that no matter how hard the going gets, you will come out on the other end and be successful. Resilience is a learned skill, and it is based on the inherent belief that you will always emerge stronger and better.

Leadership can be challenging. When complex business problems arise, you need to be prepared to meet them head-on and be resilient as you work toward a solution.

Be self-disciplined
Being self-disciplined is a bit of a catch-all of the other characteristics of courageous leadership. It requires purpose and authenticity, with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence and resilience. Self-discipline is about being poised, calm and composed. When the crisis has struck, the voices are raised and the situation is stressed, the courageous leader demonstrates restraint and focus – this is self-discipline. It requires keeping the temper under control, managing fear and dealing with social stress.

How can we go about building our courage? Here are some pointers.

Decide to be courageous. When you are in a situation that requires courage, stand up and be counted. Just do it!
Be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not the same as being weak. It means you are human. You will earn respect.
Do what needs to be done. Delay and procrastination won’t help your cause.
Communicate. Let people know where you stand and why you take that position. Others will come to your cause.
Get out of bad situations. When you are in an ethically compromised situation, do the right thing. Be open, be honest and get out.
Admit your mistakes. All your actions aren’t going to be the right ones. Don’t dig yourself deeper into an unsupportable situation. Bring it out into the open and move on
Set high standards for your team and for yourself. Agree to hold one another accountable. This is a virtuous cycle.
Be open to negative feedback. Push the ‘yes, buts’ out of the way. You will learn something very valuable.

As a courageous leader, you must always be clear on your values and principles. Everyone in your team and your organisation should be clear about your position. Don’t compromise to chase profits, reach targets, or avoid difficult or crucial conversations. Build self-awareness and a deeper understanding of your emotions. Don’t walk away from having potentially difficult or uncomfortable conversations. Be strong enough to initiate difficult conversations and work through them to move forward. This means having real, honest conversations, even when there is the potential for conflict.

It takes courage to be courageous. Courage takes us to a better place and makes us better people. In a world where people are stepping back from being in charge, be the one who steps forward and makes the difference.

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James Forson
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Writter and Content head at Regenesys School of Business based in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

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