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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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

3 Responses to Courageous Leadership

  1. @mckra1g says:

    I think that it’s possible to “do good” and still make a profit. Clif Bar operates on what is referred to as a triple bottom line philosophy and they appear to be doing okay, money-wise.

    Courage is that point at which we all meet ourselves internally – when we face a decision to act in accordance or against our gut. When we go against our gut for short term [financial] gain, it always bites you in the butt later. Not so when we act in alignment with our values. Never.

    • I hope we’ll see more companies adopt the core philosophy that long-term commitment to principle is far more important than impressing Wall St. with quarterly numbers….

  2. Anne Galivan says:

    The Golden Rule. Exactly. It’s a wonder more people don’t get it. I could extrapolate this to so many of the vices and sicknesses that our society looks at and shrugs at. How about pornography? Would you want someone getting off on that picture if it was your daughter? But it’s okay when you don’t know who someone is. You can exploit and use and say “but everyone does it so what’s the big deal?”

    It’s not the nameless, faceless, giant corporations that are really doing harm. Not the way I look at it. That’s the problem with too many people’s mindsets. They’ve bought into the class warfare or someone’s agenda without realizing that it is about individuals making decisions every day. Little decisions and big ones.

    And there’s nothing “utopian” about truth Steve. I also don’t think most of the time it takes that much courage to practice the Golden Rule. Sure it does sometimes, but the more we practice the Golden Rule in the little things the easier it is to practice it when we face a bigger challenge of integrity. But then, you already know that!

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