Valor-Fuel

On this week’s LeadershipChat, we’re going to be talking about Valor in Leadership. My co-host, Lisa Petrilli, gives a nice summary of her thoughts on her blog post this week (Three Lost Truths about Valor in Leadership).

For my part, I’m going to narrow the focus down to one aspect that is crucial to the exercise of valorous leadership. It’s what we can call “valor-fuel” – a conviction about what is right, and commitment to do it at all costs.

When we see bold, sacrificial, heroic courage in a leader, we are deeply impressed (think about the movie Braveheart). But what gives a person that sort of backbone? Are they taking valor vitamins with their Cheerios? Is it an inborn trait?

I don’t think so. It’s principled conviction. It’s dedication to a transcendent cause. It’s conscience joining hands with action despite all inner and outer opposition.

And, it’s rare. Look at all of our so-called leaders and ask yourself – where do I see this type of William Wallace-style bravery? Who is demonstrating Eric Liddell-like conviction?

While a certain level of pragmatism is warranted in the navigation of life, the valiant leader knows that commitment to principle is the lighthouse. Even a timid soul can be bold as a lion when driven by a sense of right and wrong. So-called leaders whose moral compasses swing wildly according to the conditions and opinions surrounding them may be able to exercise influence, but they will not be known for valor as leaders.

That title is earned, often at great personal cost, and with a willingness to endure headwinds. The valiant leader doesn’t poll others to find out what is right and wrong. He or she shows others by a commitment to principle.

Valor. May we aspire to nothing less.

Join us on Tuesday nights for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (8 pm ET) – and, to make your chat experience even more enjoyable, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

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Courageous Leadership

Courage is the willingness to act according to one’s convictions.

It is not lack of fear – it is refusal to be paralyzed by fear.

It is not recklessness – it includes a clear-eyed view of the risks, and a readiness to go forward anyway.

It is not exclusively male nor female – macho guys can be enslaved to peer pressure, while feminine gals can stand as strong as a lion.

Courage says, “I’m going to do this because it is the right thing to do.” Would that we had more courage in business leaders!

What would it look like?

I think that, fundamentally, it would look like a thorough and practical commitment to the Golden Rule, instead of the Gold-in Rule.

Golden Ruletreat others the way you’d wish to be treated

Gold-in Ruledo what’s necessary to maximize my gold

Here’s the Courageous Choice in business: Do I do what’s right? Or do I do what is expedient to try to ensure maximum short-term (income/profitability/bonus/stock price/etc.)?

The courageous business leader looks at the long-term, looks at the good of clients/customers/employees/stakeholders, looks at the Golden Rule, and chooses to do what’s right despite unpopular consequences.

The cowardly leader looks at the short-term, at his/her own wallet, at the not-so-best-practices of other companies that get away with stuff, and decides to lie, misrepresent, cheat, engage in false marketing, and do what he wouldn’t want done to him in order to maximize immediate income.

In last week’s #LeadershipChat, we began to touch on business ethics. I don’t think you need an expensive MBA class to learn that. Fundamentally, you need the Golden Rule and courage, and the clear vision that comes with a clean conscience. Start with that, then worry about nuanced choices later.

And, in my opinion, those leaders and businesses that apply the Golden Rule will, over time, have plenty of Gold-in to follow.  Because there’s ROI to earning rich dividends of trust. Do they teach that in business schools anymore…?

What do you think? Utopian ideals? Or is this actually attainable?

Read what my co-moderator Lisa Petrilli wrote this week about courage. Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

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