By Al C. RESTIVO, Ph.D.
How can you as a new or experienced leader face the fact that without courage you will not succeed? There are at least five time tested ways of building your leadership courage and your determination to succeed by overcoming the fear of failure, a key element of courageous leadership.
1. Be prepared to fail. Courage is accepting that each failure merely brings you one step closer to eventual success. So rather than fearing to fail, and allowing that fear to prevent you from even trying, look at failures as what they are: learning experiences. Try a new tactic. If you fail, keep trying until you succeed. Persistence requires courage, the courage to keep going despite obstacle that are self-created or created by others, both friends and adversaries.
2. Be persistent. When you really, truly want to implement a new system, a new way of doing things, a new vision, and it seems unattainable, getting it, whatever it may be, will take both courage, and determination. Persistence and courage to persist are not mutually exclusive; they are linked in a reality that never seems to fail for effective leaders.
3. Ignore the nay-sayers. These are people who are always ready to turn thumbs down on your ideas. Stay the course despite their nagging opposition. Have the courage to face them down by ignoring their pessimism. If you really want to get to where you want to be, you have to block out their negativity, and just move forward. Of course you should always consider good advice when it’s given, but always remember that no one but you determines your success or failure in life. As a leader you are the builder of your own destiny. You cannot allow others to set your course, for if you do not have the courage of your convictions, you will never find out what you really could have achieved.
4. Embrace the unknown. Why do we fear the dark, the answer is simple. Darkness removes sight, leaving everything that lies within it unknown. It’s this fear of the unknown, rather than the darkness itself, that leads us to fear unknown enemies and opponents.
5. Be guided by your conscience. Some of the most courageous people in the world have become successful leaders because their conscience simply would not allow them to ignore what was happening around them. Great leaders are moral leaders. They are empathetic and refuse to ignore injustice and the pain of others. They often put the interests of others before their own interests, often, like Don Quixote , tilting at windmills fighting to achieve, through courage, what they know and vision to be the right course of action.
Excerpted from “So You Want to be Leader?” a new book scheduled for publication later this year written by Dr. Al Restivo, noted local leadership, executive and life and career coach.