Courage: The One Essential of Leadership

What's the most vital aspect of leadership?

I put that question recently to about 30 young professionals who were completing a two year leadership development program. As you might guess, they had a number of different ideas.

Gradually, however, the conversation gravitated to the importance of courage. Courage is the one thing that every effective leader must have.

  • The courage to take the tough stand
  • The courage to risk the hazards for what it right
  • The courage to take appropriate risks
  • The courage to toss out the familiar and try something new
  • The courage to hold people accountable
  • The courage to intervene in conflict
  • The courage to make tough or unpopular decisions
  • The courage to regroup after a resounding defeat

If you think about it, the very first people who were called "leaders" were military figures who led warriors into battle. The leader was at the front, in the middle of the foray. In a day of brutal hand-to-hand combat, it was no job for the faint of heart.

Today leaders are still "doing battle." And they must have the heart for it. The death knell of a leader's reputation and influence is being viewed as "not having the guts to lead."

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