7 Traits of Courageous Leadership

There are many courageous leaders in our world today. Certainly coming to mind are the military and emergency personnel who serve faithfully everyday.

It takes courage to be an organizational leader also. And, I see many courageous leaders, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.

But, what does it mean when we talk about courage and leadership? Every leader I know wants to be considered brave, strong, courageous.

Who are the truly courageous organizational leaders among us?

I have a few thoughts. I wish I always lived up to all of them.

Here are 7 traits of a courageous leader:

Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult. Courageous leaders remain steadfast when others are departing.

Not afraid to make big requests of others. They make big asks of people, but are willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them.

Willing to take the first move into unproven territory. Courageous leaders are pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks.

Moves forward by faith. Even when the outcome is unclear, courage helps these leaders face conflicts others tend to avoid. Uncharted waters are the courageous leader’s playground.

Makes hard decisions regarding people. Leaders with courage entrust others with genuine responsibilities. They empower people even before they completely prove themselves. They invest in people others are willing to dismiss — But they are also willing to acknowledge when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team and — as graciously as possible — move forward without them.

Protects the God-given vision. In the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks courageous leaders stay the course. They know God has called them to something bigger than today and they hold fast to His plans for their life and the people they lead.

Implements needed changes. Change is never easy. It’s why most of us avoid it, but even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular, leaders with courage push forward to lead change with diligence. They challenge the status-quo with which others have grown contented.

Thanks to all the courageous leaders who are leading well! You are making a difference!

Anything you’d add to my list?

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22 thoughts on “7 Traits of Courageous Leadership

  1. As always a good list. Nonetheless, I would suggest that "in excess" most of these seven qualities could also describe the "dictatorial" leader (or less psycho-leader). For example, "Willing to take the lead into unproven territory" can also be seen as going where all advisors have suggested it is dangerous/crazy for the organization… and then "making a big ask of others" to follow him/her blindly in taking the organization into an uncertain/scary future. If s/he wants to "spiritualize" the risk, they say "if you just had faith in God" you would do this. The same good principles can also be wrongfully extended in regards to #5 & #7 also. What marks the fine line between "courageous" leadership and "crazy dictator?" Hopefully more than results.

    • Yes, absolutely. Every good principle can be abused if not implemented properly. I would submit I have lots of other lists with how a leader is to relate to a team — lead — and one list of 7 should not incorporate my entire philosophy of leadership. But, your point is well taken. Courage can be translated as control. I would totally be against that.thank you!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  2. A little late to this discussion, but willing to accept failure. I truly believe that most leaders that succeed are those that get knocked down, but keep getting back up and moving forward rather than giving in.

  3. When I think of courageous leadership I think of someone who is big and strong or small like David. Someone who has the strength to face the enemy or stand up to someone instead of backing down and being scared. I think of someone who perseveres through the hard times.
    Twitter: tijuanabecky

  4. Here are a few more qualities I thought of:

    – Willingness to reverse/apologize for a bad desicion
    – Self-discipline
    – Sees potential in others
    – Honesty and integrity
    – Think outside the box
    – Visionary (you hit on this one in your post, but I think it bears repeating…)

  5. — Placing public interest in preference to private interest
    — Treats coworkers as partners, not competitors
    — Genuinely listens to others
    — Demonstrates honest, ethical behavior in all interactions
    — Avoids political or self-serving behavior