Standing in front of a roomful of strangers, muttering to myself, “Look beyond the board. Don’t let your eyes stop at the board. It’s just like butter.”
At the same time, I heard the familiar refrain in my mind, “Have you ever done this before? Are you nuts? What happens if you can’t do it? Don’t embarrass yourself in front of these people.”
I took a deep breath to try to erase the doubt. A quick glance up to find a familiar face in the audience. Close my eyes to visualize success. Another deep breath and KAPOW – hand successfully through the board without even a scratch!
The board breaking exercise – one in a series of “I can’t believe I just accomplished this” exercises completed at a workshop with Fire Power Seminars – is one I like to discuss when meeting with leaders as the exercise mirrors situations leaders find themselves in every day. Faced with a daunting goal, tempted to look at the short term win vs. the long term gain (“beyond the board”), and hoping and praying that we don’t make a misstep while all eyes are on us (or we think all eyes are on us).
At its core, leadership is about reaching deep inside to find courage, regardless of our fears and apprehensions (note: I did not say ABSENT fear and apprehension – true leadership courage is not free of these feelings).
The good news is courage can be learned. Below are some simple ways we can practice leadership courage:
- Challenge the norm: Just because things have always been done a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right approach. As a leader, look for opportunities to strengthen performance by questioning the status quo.
- Listen rather than speak: Leaders show up by knowing when to listen to those around them and by being intentional in what they say. Encourage those around you to share their thoughts and opinions regarding a challenging issue, even if you believe you have have the answer. Ask probing questions to learn more about their ideas and suggestions.
- Stay true to your values: There will be times in which your values are challenged. Perhaps it’s in a discussion with friends, a situation at school or work, a decision you have to make. Courage means staying true to YOU. If you are tempted to go against your values, take time to collect your thoughts, temporarily remove yourself from the situation, talk to a trusted friend or colleague.
Leadership begins by having the courage to commit. How will you show courage today?
Written By: Deb Lang, Principal Consultant, Leader Lab Consulting