What do you consider the biggest threat to your organization to be? Wrestling with declining revenues? Struggling with intense global competition? Or battling against disruptive new technologies? How about fear? Fear has been spreading throughout organizations – negatively impacting morale, productivity, and the bottom-line. Living in fear is destructive for a team, and kills momentum. Fear drives people to shore up what they have rather than to go after what they want. During times of rapid change and uncertainty, anxiety levels go up, and the appetite for risk goes down. In fear-based environments, it’s all about protecting the status quo. Yet, these are the exact times when bold action can reap the greatest rewards. Envision a better way, a better solution, a better product – and approach it with determination and an open mind.

Most of us know “what to do” but not “how to” in challenging situations, when the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin are pumping through our veins. Our instincts tell us to move away from discomfort or stress. Yet, it is important to view discomfort as something positive, an opportunity for courage. If you re-frame this challenge as, “my opportunity for courage – to support values,” you can actually stay grounded in your decision, and remain motivated to see it through. Courage comes from the heart. Without confidence and courage, leaders cannot steer organizations effectively or grow their capacity to adapt quickly to change and seize the opportunities change always holds.

“The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk

How can leaders instill confidence in their organizations and reinforce acts of courage?

Courageous leadership involves developing clarity and awareness about the desired impact leaders have on their followers. In his book “Leadership isn’t for cowards”, Mike Staver uses the acronym ATTACK to demonstrate the essential components of becoming a courageous leader.

ATTACK with Courage

A – Accept the circumstances
Face the situation as it actually is by recognizing leadership strengths and limitations, and working effectively within the current reality. Ditch the rose-colored glasses and face the facts about the state of your organization and business. Only by knowing the true current state can you lead your team to a better place.

T – Take action
Build a balance between being ready and taking risks. Many leaders spend too much time getting ready to be ready. Instead, analyze the pitfalls and act quickly.

T – Take responsibility
Articulate and apply steps to create a culture of followers who take ownership of their responsibility. Courageous leaders own the results of their choices. Don’t blame the market, interest rates or any other outside conditions for circumstances inside your culture. They are your responsibility, however, that doesn’t mean every problem your company has is your fault.

A – Acknowledge progress
Pay attention to the progress that is being made. Determine the desirable results and benchmarks, and be certain that those benchmarks are acknowledged and celebrated when they are achieved.

C – Commit to new habits
Cultivate leadership behaviors including accountability, communicating powerfully, and coaching. Commit yourself to learning on three levels: Learn about yourself first, your people second and your industry third.

K – Kindle
Give new life to leadership, the performance of followers, and the way people feel about their work. Kindle is often defined as giving new life to something. Leaders give new life to businesses and organizations by constantly developing people, engaging people and caring about their progress.

“Self-confidence must come from within. Outside reinforcement and strokes can help, but you have to build your own confidence.”
Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

We are as always just an email or phone call away. Contact us. Let’s explore your drivers, derailers and potential to lead courageously. Creating a culture of courage and confidence starts with you. It starts with your commitment to dare bravely, speak bravely, and to lead bravely. Start now. Sticking with the status quo will grow increasingly expensive.

Lead courageously, Annette.

PS – If you want to know more about the effects of stress on your body, download our free infographic.

PPS – In our article “Self control and what it takes …” we explain how stressful situations affect our brains and can lead to overwhelming emotional reactions, the so-called ‘amygdala hijack’.

Picture source: https://pixabay.com/en/leopard-wildcat-wildlife-safari-2895448/