Leaders, are you ready to step out of your comfort zone?

Leaders, are you ready to step out of your comfort zone?

0 (2)

Today’s organisations are operating in an increasingly VUCA world. They’re constantly tackling fast-changing economies, policies, trends, disruption and evolving technologies. Whatever the reason, change is almost always difficult for employees and even more challenging for your bottom line.

Author Simon Sinek says, “In our VUCA world, we are playing the infinite game.” It’s true. Today’s rules are fuzzy and open to interpretation. The playing field is undefined. Our progress can be hard to measure. Our opponents change frequently, as does the game itself. Often, there are no clear winners or losers. Although, competitors may drop out of the game when they lose the resources or the will to stop playing.

 “In our VUCA world, we are playing the infinite game.”

As leaders, we must ask ourselves, how should we lead in a VUCA world? How do we motivate our people to keep working towards a common goal, even when the going gets tough and they’re faced with uncertainty?

Well, as it turns out, the answer has a lot to do with courageous leadership.  

Courageous leadership can have a huge impact on both a local and a global scale. In fact, I firmly believe that courageous leaders are the best people to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Issues like climate change and gender equality require a huge shake up of the status quo, and who better to lead that change than a courageous leader?

Now, more than ever, we need courageous leaders. Leaders who step up. Leaders who make bold moves. Leaders who inspire teams and change.

In the future of work, courageous leaders will be in high demand and short supply. So, how can you role model courageous leadership and inspire courageous action from your teams? Start by adopting these eight traits:

Find and prioritise your just cause.

Simon Sinek says that being courageous is a lot easier if you’ve found your just cause.

Once you’ve found your just cause, you’ll know it! And you’ll have the mental power to overcome obstacles, persevere when you feel like giving up and propel yourself forward when confronted with a challenge.

Your just cause is an ideal vision of the future. It’s linked to our ‘why’ in that it compels us to do what we do. But, our ‘why’ comes from the past, whereas our just cause is our ‘why’ projected into the future. It describes a future state in which our ‘why’ has been realised. Sinek says our just cause is ‘a forward-looking statement that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to see that vision advanced.’

Once you’ve found your just cause, you’ll know it! And you’ll have the mental power to overcome obstacles, persevere when you feel like giving up and propel yourself forward when confronted with a challenge.

Once you’ve identified your just cause, you need to prioritise it above all else. Be prepared to stand up to the objections and pressures of others and stay true to what’s driving you. If you find this to be too big a task to tackle alone, find and band together with other leaders who share your just cause.

Remember, the game of business is infinite. Often, playing the infinite game is about outlasting your opposition, not defeating them.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

Courageous leaders are comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Fear is not always a bad thing. If you feel fear, it means that you are doing things that are pushing you out of your comfort zone. It means that you care enough about your organisation that an actual or perceived threat to its existence causes you to have an emotional reaction.

The important thing is that you are self-aware and mindful of how you process your fear. After all, your reactions will be noticed and modeled by your team.

Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions and tendencies in a given situation. It’s about staying on top of your typical reactions to certain types of events, challenges and people.

The biggest obstacle to self-awareness is avoiding the discomfort of seeing ourselves as we really are. This creates a number of problems because we simply ignore or minimise what we need to change. Instead, we must try to be courageous and move into—and eventually through—those uncomfortable feelings so that we can use them for something productive.

Of course, this starts with taking the time to reflect on where these emotions come from. Figure out what your buttons, pet peeves or triggers are. Why do these things irk you so much? Does something or someone remind you of a negative experience in the past?

Once, you’ve done this a few times, you will soon discover that the discomfort isn’t so bad, it didn’t destroy you and it has its rewards (i.e. you are less likely to do something you regret later and more likely to achieve a better outcome).

No alt text provided for this image

Receiving and reflecting on our own behaviour is one thing. But what about when you need to give that feedback to someone else? At work, people are often afraid to have difficult discussions. We see it all the time, our co-workers not having the tough conversation because they feel uncomfortable. But, in the end, no one benefits from this approach and nothing ever changes.

In reality, done well, giving feedback is an opportunity to build relationships. The important thing is to address the problem and not the person, and to deliver the feedback in a clear and respectful way.

There are many great books out there on how to give good feedback. But, one of my favourites is Kim Scott’s Radical Candor. It offers some great advice on how to be a kickass leader without losing your humanity. Her tips for delivering feedback that’s kind, clear, specific and sincere are guaranteed to help you feel more comfortable in these types of situations.

 Provide vision (and a flexible path to achieving it).

No alt text provided for this image

In his book The New Leadership Literacies, author and futurist Bob Johansen challenges courageous leaders to forecast likely futures so you can “look back” and make sure you’re prepared now for the changes to come. He proposes that the antidote to a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world lie in vision, understanding, clarity and agility. Being a courageous leader means setting goals and objectives, and painting a picture of what success looks like. Importantly, leaders must offer a flexible path to achieving the organisation’s goals and allow their teams to confidently and creatively develop positive solutions to disruptions and opportunities. It is the combination of direction and autonomy that enables teams to successfully make their way through uncertainty.

 Gather insights.

The decisions that we make when we’re in a hurry are rarely as effective as those that we make with some planning and clear thinking. 

When faced with a problem or threat, courageous leaders try to understand it before they take action. The decisions that we make when we’re in a hurry are rarely as effective as those that we make with some planning and clear thinking. So, spend more time understanding the problem. If you can, ask your mentors, peers or team for help. Even if you are accountable for the final decision, you can still seek valuable insights and guidance from others. Just remember, sometimes, it may be better to speak to someone who doesn’t have an emotional connection to the situation.

 Take action (and explain your decisions).

No alt text provided for this image

Courageous leaders are confident taking action and feel comfortable explaining their decisions. If they didn’t have the option of consulting with their team while they were making a decision, they will at least need to explain to them why they made that decision. It can be a tough pill for people to swallow when decisions are made for them. So, it’s important that we show our teams the alternatives that we considered and explain why we made the final choice. If a decision impacts them personally, make sure you acknowledge that too. These types of conversations can be tough. So, be real and honest about the organisation’s position and share the facts.

Furthermore, courageous leaders know good communication is two-way communication. So, once you’ve explained you decision, allow your team to express their thoughts and feelings. Truly focus on what they have to say. Don’t just absorb the words, notice the volume, tone and speed of their voice. And consider if there is anything they’re not saying. Ultimately, active listening is what makes people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.

 Admit and fix your mistakes.

Sometimes, despite their best efforts, courageous leaders make a bad decision. In these situations, you’ll need to be honest about it. Apologise, explain what you’re going to do to fix it, and then do what you promise. Remember, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Learn the lesson and move on. Failing does not make you a failure. Be sure to remind your team of this too. 

 Be present.

increasing your accessibility will improve your relationships, as you will open the door to communication and have the opportunity to learn about others

Courageous leaders make themselves accessible. Whether times are good or bad, increasing your accessibility will improve your relationships, as you will open the door to communication and have the opportunity to learn about others. Whether it’s in person or digitally, people will generally respect and appreciate the time you’ve given them.

To develop these relationships further, you’ll need to acknowledge, and not dismiss or downplay, others’ feelings. Even if you don’t feel the same way, recognise and respect their opinions.

 Create and sustain positive energy.

No alt text provided for this image

Courageous leaders create hope for the future by generating and sustaining positive energy. Hope is a powerful motivator. It gives people something to look forward to and it helps them to see a way through the complexity and the chaos.

To create hope, you’ll need to bring a positive personal energy into the room every single day. Research has shown that there is a strong link between what we think and how we feel, so start monitoring your internal chatter. Try to focus on the right things, like visualising yourself and others succeeding. This positive energy will show through in your daily conversations and body language, and have a ripple effect on those around you.

To sustain this positive energy, courageous leaders take time to recharge mentally. They also encourage others to do the same. Funnily enough, recharging our minds often comes down to how we treat our bodies. So, be sure to create space for you and the people you lead to balance your mental, physical and spiritual energy.

Leading in a VUCA world takes great courage.

“The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.”

As Professor Brene Brown says, “Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.”

If you’re looking to solve some of the world’s most complex problems, outlast the competition and succeed in a VUCA world, it’s time to step up to courageous leadership. Find and prioritise your just cause. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Provide vision, gather insights and take action. Admit and fix your mistakes. Be there. And create and sustain positive energy for you and the teams that you lead.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *