There are many courageous leaders in our world today. Certainly coming to mind are the military and emergency personnel who serve faithfully everyday. I’m living again in a military town (I grew up here) and their willingness to go into harm’s way to protect us always inspires me.
In my experience, it takes courage to lead an organizational effectively too. And I see many courageous ministry leaders. For example, I admire those who lead organizations to thrive even during difficult times. I respect those who attempt church revitalization. And I appreciate those who take a risk to plant a church.
Every leader I know wants to be considered brave, strong and courageous. But what does it mean when we talk about courageous leadership?
I have a few thoughts.
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. They are willing to lead through the objections of change knowing they’ve been called to lead toward a better reality.
Not afraid to make big requests of others. They challenge people to stretch themselves personally. They aren’t afraid to encourage others outside their comfort zones. And they are willing to use their influence to help accomplish them.
Willing to take the first move into unproven territory. Courageous leaders are pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks. They step into the unknown and are willing to challenge status quo and “the way it’s always been done.”
Even when the outcome is unclear, courage helps these leaders face obstacles others tend to avoid. Uncharted waters are the courageous leader’s playground.
Move forward by faith. These leaders aren’t running recklessly. They operate in faith. Faith leaders place their ultimate confidence in God and are willing to make an investment in hope.
Make hard decisions regarding people. Leaders with courage entrust others with genuine responsibilities. They are willing to take a chance on people, sometimes empowering others even before they completely prove themselves. Courageous leaders give second chances, often investing 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. They never hold on to people to gain or retain popularity or for the sake of protecting a paycheck.
Implement 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.
To be clear, this does not mean courageous leaders run over people. That never works. There’s a difference in being courageous and being ruthless.
Protect the God-given vision. In the midst of criticism, hard seaons 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.
I wish I always lived up to all of these. I commit to strive to do so. Who is with me?
Thanks to all the courageous leaders who are leading well! You are making a difference!