Success or failure during times of peril depends on your ability to get your team moving in the right direction. Courage and resolve will help you avoid the temptations that lead to failure in difficult times. When people are asking me how do you spot a leader, I would ask the following question: How did they lead in challenging times and adversity? Think about leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
Leadership in today’s world is in short supply. We are not expecting perfect leaders, but people who have primary greatness.
According to the late Stephen Covey, “A successful life is about primary greatness-a life of duty, honor, integrity, perseverance, self-sacrifice and service, regardless of material rewards or circumstances. “
At the heart of it, It’s about building your leadership character. How do you respond to setbacks and adversity will have a lasting impact on whether you were courageous enough to lead by example? All of us want to see positive changes, but the real question is whether you are included in the change. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In order for us to make a difference, we have to BE the difference.
We are sometimes challenged to keep quiet or move on, to conform and settle back to our pre-determined roles. But nothing can be so far from the truth as to what leaders really do. Candor and tough decisions require courage, and courage will set you apart from the pack. We need courageous leaders with the capacity to think deeply, critically, comprehensively, and do what’s right.
For some of us, life has become overwhelming by constant changes and ongoing demands to do more with less. It has become challenging to navigate the day to day without losing your soul. We need to remember who we are and what we believe in. We must identify and keep our purpose alive.
Leadership is always taking the road less traveled. It’s uncomfortable. It’s about change, vision and disruption. It’s letting go of the old and ushering the new. It’s not necessarily about great heroic acts, but the day to day contributions to making your organization, community and family a better place. Each day can be a contribution to a deeper more satisfying sense of purpose and momentum in the right direction.
Leadership is a life long journey, so don’t try to master it in one month. Lakshmi Ramarajan a Harvard Business Review writer says, the process of learning, growing, and developing an integrated self is a process of construction and meaning–making. As a leader, you will face many challenges. Adversity is a great teacher. We begin to mold our character and values based on our experiences.
So what are some of the ways to challenge ourselves and lead with courage?
Be action oriented leader
Great leaders don’t sit on the sidelines. The don’t tippy toe around the opportunities presented to them. Life is a game, but you have to be in the game to win the game, you can’t win it by being a spectator. Each of us can make a meaningful contribution. It does not have to be grandiose. It could be a simple act of kindness toward people you have influence with.
Be comfortable with the unknown
Great leaders are comfortable with the unknown. They embrace the unexpected as they mature and grow into their leadership role. Nothing is guaranteed in life, so you might as well find out what works and what doesn’t. The only way to do find out is by trying new solutions to an old problem.
Learn from every experience
John F. Kennedy who had big a learning curve as young president said, ‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Leadership is not a sprint. It’s a journey of learning about your strengths and how you can take your experiences as an opportunity to get better. The best leaders are not born, they are made.