Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

The Courageous Leader

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One perspective I’m observing in my research is the role of courage and how it may have changed over time. Many prominent leaders early in our history and responsible for the founding of the United States had strong courage of their convictions. The personal courage they displayed included placing their lives and personal fortunes at risk as they stood up against the British Crown. If they lost their battle for independence, they would have been branded a traitor, at a terrible price.

Fast forward to the current economic crisis, where we saw prominent financial leaders, jumping the ship with their golden parachutes, leaving their employees to fend for themselves. They placed nothing at risk, nor had the courage the deal with the situation they were responsible for creating.

Now obviously, I citing two end points of the courage spectrum, but they are insightful in understanding the changing role of courage as it applicable to leadership.

All leaders must display a courage of their convictions that is included in their personal vision. Does this mean that they must put everything on the line? They must model a level of courage that is expected of their employees. Does that mean potentially sacrificing everything? Maybe not everything, but it does mean putting his or herself on the line and a willingness to sacrifice something of consequence.

Leadership is tested during times of adversity. A so-called leader who cuts and runs when faced with adversity is not a leader. A true leader, at any level of an organization, will confront adversity and use his or her skills to summon his or her available resources to overcome it. This is where courage plays an important role in leadership.

In addition to their courage of convictions, other forms of courage displayed by leaders include: mental, moral, physical and spiritual courage.  The prominent leaders I’m researching from the founding of our country to contemporary times all display these types of courage in one form or another. One thing is evident is when times got tough, they didn’t cut and run. They mustered their resources and worked through. They knew what need to get done and did it.

If you would like to learn more about the courage of the great American leaders, through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2009 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

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