Learning to stand up, speak out, and step forward despite your fears
If your stomach is churning, knees wobbling and still somehow you are striding forward, you may have what it takes to be an exceptional leader — courage. It is what many call the prerequisite skill for great leadership and it has absolutely nothing to do with being fearless.
In fact, courage only exists where there is fear, apprehension and uncertainty. Leaders need it because they must make decisions, plan a course of action, provide and accept difficult feedback and trust others to help them along the journey with no guarantee of success.
From taking a risk on an international assignment to creating bravely inclusive work environments, sharing case studies on gender equity and learning to reach your LIMITLESS potential, the message at the 2019 Annual Leadership Development Conference was clear: success favors the courageous. A record-breaking 3,200 leaders met to build their skills, build their courage and help WFF celebrate 30 years of boldly advancing women in the Food Industry.
Conference presenters on courage
Researcher, storyteller and five-time #1 New York Times best-selling author, Brené Brown, launched Conference with critical findings from 20 years of research, including the past seven studying leadership. She found real leadership is about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage.
Former Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, said courage was one of her top three skills for success because you have to be willing to step up, challenge the status quo and talk about your areas of expertise.
The Change Makers, outstanding women leaders early in their careers selected by their companies for recognition during WFF’s 30th Anniversary Celebration also echoed the need for courage. Director of PR & Communications for Brinker International, Aisha Fletcher, advised, “Surround yourself with people who push you. They are the ones who will make you better and urge you to reach higher.”
Closing speaker, two-time Olympian and assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Becky Hammon, said, “Courage sets the great ones apart. When they make a mistake, they learn and move on.”
Here’s what you’ll need for your journey into courage.
The Courage to Try
Deciding to be courageous is a conscious choice. Because there will come a point when you look uncertainty and possible failure in the eye and decide to move forward. That’s your moment of courage and an opportunity to set a daring vision for others.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt, US President
A Willingness to Accept Discomfort
Courage never involves the easy, comfortable, safe thing. But it helps to know those things are risky too. There are costs associated with fear, indecision and inaction.
“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”
Brené Brown, researcher and author
Hard Dose of Reality
Courageous leaders don’t pretend everything is ok. They seek dissenting views, embrace constructive criticism and hold themselves accountable. They also launch difficult conversations and give tough feedback when warranted.
“We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”
Roy T. Bennett, author
Trust and vulnerability
You don’t have all the answers and you might not even know what to do next. You are also human and have those annoying frailties. Get ready to not be 100% in control and trust your team and colleagues to come through for you.
“When you are role modeling and rewarding the daring … the courage … the effort…the fact that you are willing to try, you create a culture of courage which emboldens other people to take more risks.”
Margie Warrell, Founder, Global Courage and host of the Live Brave Podcast
A Strong Voice
Leaders communicate openly and honestly and stand up for their beliefs. They also call out discrimination and unfairness and stand behind their team members and colleagues.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Coco Chanel, designer
If you want to help your team achieve more, advance in your career or simply grow your life, start with courage.