March 21, 2023
by John O. Burdett
The following leadership themes demand a level of comfort with being uncomfortable beyond anything previously asked of us.
Courage in times of war is, of course, putting one’s very life on the line for something you believe in deeply. The ultimate expression of courage. In the midst of today’s business turmoil, leadership is clearly not about life or death. It does demand courage, however. A different kind of courage. The recognition that mental strength, tenacity and perseverance are the currency of continued success.
The following leadership themes demand a level of comfort with being uncomfortable beyond anything previously asked of us:
- Curiosity. This is far more than simply taking a keen interest in your surroundings. It’s peering through the window of change with new eyes. It’s acting on the belief that there is always a better way. Without the courage to let our curiosity gene take flight, the status quo becomes the only way.
- Organise the business with tomorrow in mind. This speaks to creating tomorrow’s culture, today. It’s hiring with strategic intent. It’s sharing stories and introducing metaphors that equip people for the world we are entering. It’s the courage to make tomorrow’s organisation a reality.
- Understand that what retains top talent is a role that has a compelling purpose; an environment that matches opportunity with capability; and recognition that fairness underscores everything the organisation does. Courage is moving beyond the rhetoric and treating employees as you would your best customer. If you don’t, you will lose both.
- Resilience. To succeed in the world we are in is to be resilient. Resilience is a state of mind. It implies enduring, bouncing back and riding the crest of the waves of change, but beyond that, it means learning and growing from the experience. Courage is to ask hard questions about our own actions. It’s to actively learn to become more resilient.
- Accept that in everything we do creating tomorrow’s customer is the very heartbeat of ongoing success. We have to also accept that without trust our customers have little reason to partner with us. Courage is developing a mindset where the customer’s success is more important than our own.
- Get fast or get out of the way. Today is the fastest things have ever been but the slowest that they will ever be. The only sustainable competitive advantage is speed of learning. Courage is about letting go of simple learning, pushing to the edge and creating the space for innovative ideas to emerge.
- Engage the heart and enrich the spirit. When added to traditional leadership thinking – enabling the head and empowering the hand – we are describing a (the) 21st century leadership imperative: leadership balance. Breaking past patterns, examining the unexamined, listening for what isn’t said, challenging bias and being willing to fully recognise what, for those who are left behind, lies in plain sight takes courage.
For a leader, language isn’t important … it’s everything. In that it is emotionally laden, courage is an especially powerful term. It’s also a linguistic frame that when you change the context you change its meaning. Beyond what has already been described, courage in business ultimately draws on the leadership of self. The mental strength needed to embark on the road less travelled. The tenacity to fully live your own story. And, in a world where only those who can see what others cannot see can do what others say cannot be done … the perseverance to endure.
This article is an extract from “Courage: Mental Strength, Tenacity and Perseverance“, © Orxestra® Inc.
John O. Burdett is founder of Orxestra® Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organisations that are household names. John has worked on organisation culture for some of the world's largest organisations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organisations around the world. Get in touch with John O. Burdett »