When you look at the state of the world today, you will see a lot of fear, judgement and negativity. These are all things that thrive when left unchallenged. Many people stay silent and look away, just trying to get themselves by. We need Courageous Leaders.

It can be uncomfortable to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done, especially when it involves risk to yourself. Being afraid of what others think is common, but it is not going to help you make a difference. You need to be brave, even if you have to fake it at first. Courage is what changes things for the better.

Courageous leadership benefits yourself and everyone around you, from your team to your colleagues and your managers. The only way to  create change in yourself and your organisation is by demonstrating courageous leadership. It's how you influence others by leading by example, and create the trust necessary to form positive relationships. 

Here are 9 attributes that all courageous leaders have and model in all areas of their lives, not just their leadership roles.

1.   Be realistic

Positivity is great, but if you're using it to shield yourself from reality then you're only doing yourself and your organisation a disservice. You can't make things better if you don't know or acknowledge how they actually are.

2. Regularly ask for feedback, and take it on board

It can be uncomfortable to hear negative feedback, but the only way to truly improve is by knowing how your team and managers feel about your current actions and behaviours. Don't wait until your annual performance review; be brave and be proactive so that you can continually improve.

3. Have the courageous conversations that need to happen

Having these tough discussions can be unpleasant, but they are for the good of everybody involved. Problems are clarified and solved quicker when you have the guts to give your opinion and have those difficult conversations. 

This includes speaking up and managing performance issues before they become too far gone. Leaving poor behaviour or performance unchecked helps no one.

4. Motivate their team to question and debate

Even the best leaders don't know everything. It's important to understand that it's in collaboration and the sharing of ideas that the best solutions are found.  

Encourage your team to speak up, especially if they have a differing opinion or idea, and you'll build trust and earn their respect.

5. Encourage communication

It takes a very courageous leader to admit when they don't know something, and still keep open communication a top priority. You want your team to feel like they can come to you for help advice, encouragement or feedback,  knowing that they will be communicated with honestly. Open communication fosters respect and trust.

6. Challenge the status quo

If you are set in your ways you will never be an effective leader. Courageous leaders are always open to new ideas and ready to go with the flow.  They know that the best results don't come easy, and inspire their team to think the same way.

 7. Quickly make decisions, and commit to them

Things can change in an instant, and it takes a brave leader to be able to make swift decisions,  especially under pressure. It takes an even braver leader to follow through and start moving forward just as quickly. 

You can always try again if something fails, but nothing will change if you stay in the same place.

8. Ensure others are given credit

One of the hardest things about being an effective leader is giving credit to your team,  especially at the expense of receiving praise yourself. Courageous leaders ensure that the credit is always given where it's due, and take the majority of the responsibility when things go wrong.

9. Take accountability for themselves and others

Holding yourself accountable, and modelling this for your team as well takes courage. Making sure that you're prepared to call out those who don't take responsibility for their work, actions or behaviours is uncomfortable, but necessary for success. Have high expectations for your own performance, and hold your team to those same standards.

Do you do you embody any of these qualities in your leadership already? It's true that being an effective leader means being brave enough to be uncomfortable and do what's best, but it's also one of the most rewarding things in the world. 

Being able to make a real difference and make your mark is achievable when you cultivate and grow the nine traits of courageous leadership listed above. 

Did you know that courage can actually be learnt? Don't just sit there wishing you were braver, take the first step today with Sonia McDonald Inc. 

If you're looking for an intensive introduction to courageous leadership, invest in your development by enrolling in one of our Courageous Leadership One Day Workshops. They're being held in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in October, and tickets are only $149! With this amazing low price, we limited spaces left - so find out more and book your place here.

To go even further in depth with your leadership development, Sonia McDonald Inc. also offers a comprehensive Courageous Leadership Online Program. Enrolling in this program gets you access to a range of exclusive resources and workbooks, and the opportunity to join in Q&As with Sonia herself in weekly coaching calls.  This program is for any leader who wants to further their leadership and become successful and courageous. 

You can join the self study program at any time, or claim your spot in our next Group Program, which opens in January 2020, here.  

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