4 Moments a Leader Needs Courage

passion Jan 19, 2022

Leadership is hard.

Honestly…it’s downright frightening at times. 

There is one quality that every leader must possess: Courage.

Leadership requires courage because leadership is all about influence, and influence comes through courage. 

A leader is not the person who talks about what needs to be done or even understands what needs to be done. Instead, the person who takes intentional action to change a situation ultimately earns the right to be the leader. 

Or, to say it another way-- "Courage creates influence." 

The person who goes first will inspire others to move and follow.

Here are four moments courage is required for every leader…


1. Times of resistance

Good leaders are future-focused and continuously make changes in order to make progress. They take new ground. They make things better. This type of forward movement inevitably creates resistance. 

There are two kinds of resistance: Internal and External. 


#1 = Internal resistance is EMOTIONAL. 

It is the insecurity and uncertainty a leader feels about his/her abilities. 

Internal resistance looks like a fear of failure. It can also emerge as self-doubt or a simple lack of confidence. Internal issues are often the major cause of hesitation, and they will prevent leaders from acting boldly.


#2 = External resistance can come in the form of PROBLEMS and PEOPLE. 

Problems may be a shortage of resources, lack of healthy systems, poor communication, or a toxic culture. 

Resistance from people is often the most difficult to face as there will always be a percentage of people who are slow adopters or late adopters. These folks do not want to go where you want to go with the organization, so they resist.


2. Times of uncertainty

Taking new ground and moving things forward includes high levels of uncertainty. 

Leadership is about going places you’ve never been before. There are so many unknowns and so many questions without answers, and this uncertainty creates fear. When fear is created it can cause us to stagnate or become paralyzed.

Good leaders will try to get as much clarity as possible; however, they know that 100% clarity is not possible. So, they muster the courage to act when they get 70-80% clarity. 

At some point, leaders act even with a level of uncertainty and, therefore, an element of risk. 

Max Depree said, “An unwillingness to accept risk has swamped more leaders than anything I can think of.”


3. When facing distractions

Leaders face countless distractions on a daily basis. 

New problems, current events, and new opportunities bombard every leader. 

Courage rises you above distractions and enables you to stay focused on your objective. 

Andy Stanley said,

The ability to identify and focus on the few necessary things is the hallmark of great leadership. It’s as much about elimination as it is addition. Don’t allow the many good opportunities to divert your attention from the one opportunity that has the greatest potential to make the biggest difference. Learn to say no.

Two realities of staying focused among a myriad of distractions are: 

  1. Learning to disappoint people.
  2. Overcoming a fear of missing out. 

We often say yes because we have a fear of letting people down and also because we think the opportunity won’t come back around. Learn to manage these two emotions if you wish to overcome distractions.


4. There will always be a need to face reality

If you are like me, you want things to work out for your organization. 

As leaders, we want things to be consistently moving forward, and if they are not progressing, we feel like we are losing or failing. 

This desire to see progress often leads leaders to avoid acknowledging what is really going on. Leaders want things to work out so badly that we are often willing to put a positive spin on things and not face reality.

This tendency is dangerous because if you don’t see things as they are, you are not in a position to fix them. If you deny the problems long enough, the problems can lead to the ultimate collapse of your organization.

As a leader, you must be on a relentless pursuit to discover the truth. 

Jim Collins clarified the job of a leader this way,

When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down or you can say my job is to turn over rocks and deal with what you see even if it scares the hell out of you.

If we fail to act, we will never know what might have been. We will never see the change we envision without courage.