We have Australian politicians that are more preoccupied with being right and always disagreeing with the opposing party, than they are with improving the lives of all Australians. Just once I would like to hear a politician say that someone on the opposing side had a great idea and that it would be supported. Just once I would like to see political courage, the courage to do something that is not “political” but is in the best interests of the majority of Australians.
Then we have the business landscape. When we ask business leaders whether they encourage innovation and creativity in their organisation, they all answer with a resounding YES. However, when we then ask their employees whether mistakes are accepted and learnt from and not punished, the answer is a resounding NO. How can you possibly have innovation in an organisation without making a mistake? And if you are going to punish every mistake, then why would anyone try something new?
It is about time, especially in the larger organisations, that management teams recognise that innovation will only occur if individuals take risks, and for individuals to take risks they must know that their job is not threatened if occasionally the result is not what was expected. And the key ingredient for management teams to maximise innovation and creativity – COURAGE.
There is much discussion about “Leadership” and it comes as no surprise that business leaders now regard the development of leadership attributes in their organisations as the highest priority. But saying it is the highest priority is easy, actually developing existing and new leaders takes commitment and resources. It is in this execution phase that conflicting priorities (short term priorities/profitability verses medium/long term organisational improvement) cannibalise the benefits of implementing a leadership pipeline.
So what is Courageous Leadership?
Courage is defined as “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution”, in business COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP translates into the following displayed attributes and underpins great leadership no matter what leadership style an individual possesses:
Make decisions when others are saying nothing
Try something new and forge new horizons when others are batting down the hatches
Hold firm when others are panicking
Allow others to make mistakes so that they can also grow into future leaders
Back their judgement when others have a different view
Confidence to change their mind and head in a totally different direction when new information is presented
So how does Courageous Leadership and the development of a Leadership Pipeline relate to the four different leadership styles?
The challenge for all executive managers is to develop an effective, and therefore simple, leadership pipeline that caters for the four different leadership styles. The four leadership styles can be best explained by describing the attributes exhibited when everything is going well (a good day) and when they are not going well (a bad day):
Good Day: cautious, reserved, meticulous & perceptive
Bad Day: passive resisters, aloof, perfectionists & guarded
Good Day: daring, leads from the front, self-assured, confident
Bad Day: single-minded, egotistical, domineering & sceptical
Good Day: inventive, roguish, energetic, charismatic
Bad Day: scheming, strange, devious & full of bad ideas
Good Day: collective, laid-back, team player, collaborative
Bad Day: needy, complacent, weak & eager to please
While nearly every leader will portray more than one leadership style depending on the circumstances, the underlying common attribute is COURAGE
With all of the above said, the question every management team must ask itself is this:
“Does our organisation encourage all employees to question the way we do things and do we then support testing out new ideas knowing that some of them will fail miserably?”
If the answer to this question is yes, then I would be very surprised if your current organisational growth is not greater than the average growth rate for your industry. Food for thought.