Dare to Lead Series: How to Keep Courage Alive

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shutterstock 96618349It takes courage to lead, especially when you get to lead other people.

Most people tend to not leave their emotions out of the work they do.

Sure, there are tasks or job roles where objectivity is desirable and achievable. However, assuming that everyone has the ability or even should lock up their feelings in order to focus on getting work done is a recipe for disaster.

Have you ever been a member of a group, working towards a common goal, yet the same issue hindered progress because no one wanted to say anything to the person contributing to the problem to avoid hurting that person’s feelings?

You might have heard the phrase, “everyone is a leader because everyone has influence”. Keep that in mind no matter who you are or what you do. You are a leader.

Too often, leaders can allow fear to drive interactions with others. Have you been in situations where you decided not to provide feedback for fear that the person on the receiving end would think one of the following things:

  • You are being too harsh.
  • Why are you so critical of what I do?
  • You think you are so much better than me, that you want to tell me what to do?
  • Did you want to be the supervisor?
  • I am not the only one you should be concerned about...and the list could go on!

In her book, Dare to Lead,  Brené Brown shares these two incredible statements:

“Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior” (p. 67)

“When we imprison the heart, we kill courage” (p. 73)

Think of the heart as the home for our feelings. People bring their feelings to the work they do, yet it is possible for the work environment to encourage people to stifle rather than share how they really feel.

I am not talking about coddling or catering to people’s preferences. I want you to think about what conversations about the work to be done--in the home or at headquarters--are not happening because of fear. When fear is present, people tend to armor up, to imprison their hearts. They shrink back, shut up, and shut down. As a result, courage dies. 

Brené presents information to help us interrogate ourselves as leaders. Is our way of leadership armored or daring? What gets prioritized when it is time for work to get done? What feelings result from how work gets carried out? Check out the abbreviated lists below and think about how you would describe your leadership culture:

Armored Leadership

  • Being a knower and being right
  • Using power over
  • Tolerating discriminiation, echo chambers, & a “fitting in” culture
  • Zig-zagging & avoiding

Daring Leadership

  • Being a learner and getting it right
  • Using power with, power to, & power within
  • Cultivating a culture of belonging, inclusivity, & diverse perspectives
  • Straight talking & taking action

Without turning this blog post into a book report, you can peruse the complete lists and read about the details around these leadership styles starting on page seventy-six of Dare to Lead.

One way to think of the difference between armored and daring leadership is the idea of being people smart. Ever heard of EQ, emotional intelligence?

It is not smart to prioritize being right, knowing everything, abusing your power, discriminating, being unclear in communication, or avoiding the disclosure of necessary information when working with other people. Yet, leaders can, have, and will continue if fear is the driving force in the work environment. 

Keep the courage alive in your organization. Cultivate daring leadership by getting people smart. At LM Thomas Group, we can help you avoid the armor and liberate the heart--the home of feelings--so that people are free to put more of their heart into the work they do.

You are a leader and you can keep courage alive.

This is the second blog in the “Dare to Lead” the comes out each fourth Tuesday of the month through December 2020, written by Dr. Valencia Moses. If you enjoyed what you have read, then please do share this post with your network. If you want to learn more about how LM Thomas Group can help you with EQ, please visit https://lmthomasgroup.com/contact/consultation to set up a consultation.

Valencia Moses

Valencia Moses is a Project Consultant with the L M Thomas Group

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[email protected]

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[email protected]