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Courage and Leadership


Probably few folks would argue that courage is a necessary leadership trait. Putting individual politics aside, yesterday Barack Obama embodied courage. He spoke with heart and eloquence to address boiling issues. He shared himself, his worldview, and his hopes. His courage was audible, visible and palpable.

Few of us are running for public office and having our lives exposed and tackled. Few of us are traversing dangerous roads. What then does courage look like, and sound like for the average leader at any level?

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  • Mark Zorro

    What courage for an average leader shouldn't be is an unrealistic expectation or comparison, for courage for everyday mortals is a two sided coin where everyone is just a toss away from its other side which is cowardice.

    Within all of us exists that two-sided coin. An average courageous leader understands their own cowardice, they understand that they are distinctly human and must avoid the mythical elevation to the level of a pantheon that leaders often acquire in command and control settings, but which are thoroughly irrelevant in any modern interactive and dynamic work relationship setting. The human quality of average leaders becomes that much more necessary because they don't exist in the highly expensive fishbowl that test people of extremely high intelligence such as Barak Obama or Bill Clinton. (In terms of Bill Clinton I am solely talking about his mental capacity)

    The average leader rarely stands in the high pressure cooker world of these politicians, and so that is why it is essential IMHO that the average leader must then closely resemble the very averageness of the people they serve.

    There are two criteria for me then of the average leader in the courage they bring out in their people. The proviso is that they have to exercise authentic and grounded leadership where the value of leadership is about organizational capability not organizational control.

    In these two criteria I envisage, either courage looks like enCOURAGEment or it looks like disCOURAGEment. It is what the average leader leads that becomes the visible reprsentation of what courage should looks and sounds like at the grassroots level i.e. an encouraging leadership or a discouraging leadership.

    IMHO the closer a leader has to work with ordinary people, the greater fine details of courage. At the very grandest level where courage is a national stage, that is a far different proposition of leadership, to that of the direct and alwayson world of average leader.

    The power to encourage then is what courage should look like and sound like for the average leader - and that is a daily job, yet we read so many reports from discouraged people, and if there is discouraged people in this world, then I am sure to bet that it stems from cowardice, the other side of the coin that is courage......M.