10 Courageous Leader Traits and How to Develop Them
Updated 20 December 2022
Courageous leadership traits can help people to lead more successfully. These traits enhance the skills of leaders by instilling confidence and encouraging action. Leaders with courageous traits can also inspire these traits in their teams. In this article, we explain what a courageous leader is and list common leadership traits and how to nurture them in yourself.
What is a courageous leader?
A courageous leader is a person who shows bravery while moving themselves and others towards a goal. They feel confident moving towards obstacles and can regroup quickly after facing setbacks. Courageous leaders may be in formal positions of power, such as managers and executives. They may also be people who naturally take on a leadership role, such as team members with courage who set an example that others follow.
10 courageous leader traits
People may develop courageous leader traits while operating in a leadership position. Here are some common courageous leadership traits and ways to develop them:
Being your authentic self takes courage. Leaders who are honest with others about who they are become vulnerable, as people can judge their true selves. Leaders who are authentic also make decisions based on their own judgements. They take the steps they believe are best, rather than acting the way they think others expect. When people act on their own judgements, rather than following the example of others, they become real leaders. Employees tend to trust authentic leaders and perform better under their management.
Focusing on self-improvement is an excellent way to become more authentic. For example, you may participate in leadership training and build a professional network of leaders you can learn from. As you better yourself, you may learn more about yourself and how you may lead authentically.
Resilience helps people endure challenges and move forward after facing setbacks and obstacles. Resilient leaders feel comfortable being courageous and taking risks, as they know they can handle any outcome. The most resilient leaders become stronger when faced with challenges.
You can become more resilient by facing challenging situations and assessing their outcome. Positive outcomes can make you feel confident of more success in the future. If outcomes are less favourable, you can assess your experiences and what you might do differently. Managing disappointment makes you more resilient as you understand you're strong enough to handle setbacks.
3. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is an understanding of emotions and how they influence actions. Emotionally intelligent people are both self-aware and socially aware or aware of other people's emotions. While understanding personal emotions can be confronting, leaders who do this can often regulate their emotions and make behavioural changes better. They also understand how other people may feel. This understanding can help them approach challenging conversations with tact and compassion. The best leaders use courage to start these conversations and emotional intelligence to guide them towards the best outcome.
You can become more emotionally intelligent by getting to know yourself better and confronting your emotions. Self-assessment tools can help you learn more about your emotions, behaviours and how others perceive you. A counsellor may also help you understand your emotions and how you impact others better.
Forthright leaders have the courage to speak about issues they feel are important. This quality helps businesses move through issues. It can also solve a minor issue before it becomes a larger one. For example, a forthright leader may approach a team member performing poorly. Discussing the issue early can be challenging, but addressing it can lead to a swift resolution. Being forthright also helps leaders voice their opinions in meetings and discussions. They have the courage to share opinions that may be different, yet worthy of consideration. Introducing new ideas can help the business become more innovative.
Becoming more comfortable with public speaking can help you be more forthright. Joining a group like Toastmasters can give you practise speaking up in front of other people. Conducting careful research can also help you be more forthright. When you trust your understanding of issues, it's easier to speak up about them. If you feel nervous, try to remind yourself of your achievements. Knowing how successful you are can remind you that your voice is worth sharing.
It can take courage to be realistic about situations and confront them head-on. The best leaders can objectively assess their team, the business and the industry it operates in. Their realistic outlook helps them understand their position and lead their teams to better positions. For example, being realistic can also help leaders identify potential risks and barriers to success. Once leaders know the risks and barriers, they can work with their teams to develop strategies to overcome them.
Doing thorough research can help you be more realistic. The more information you have about a situation, the easier it is to understand the facts. Use a variety of resources to get an objective view of a situation. Approaching every resource with an open mind can help you learn the truth about a situation. Wait until you gather all the facts before drawing your conclusions.
6. Receptiveness to feedback
Receiving feedback leaves leaders vulnerable to the opinions of others. The best courageous leaders accept the risk and seek feedback from others. They understand that while positive feedback can reinforce their strengths, negative feedback offers an opportunity for growth. Courageous leaders listen carefully to all feedback and consider what they can learn from it. They also know seeking feedback from others can develop their professional relationships.
You can become more receptive to feedback by changing your mindset and seeing it as a way to learn more about yourself and how you can improve. Remember that most feedback refers to your behaviours, rather than who you are as a person. Remembering this and knowing you can always improve your behaviours can help you accept all feedback. While receiving feedback, think carefully about what the other person tells you. Practising active listening can help you stay engaged and confirm what the other person thinks about you.
The most courageous leaders often have the self-discipline to keep moving themselves and others towards a goal, even when it's challenging. They refuse to let their own fears or competing interest undermine their motivation or productivity. They understand that they lead by example and showing self-discipline in the face of adversity can inspire others to do the same.
Being self-disciplined takes practise. Striving to stay focused and achieve each day is important. While sometimes these plans falter, having a consistent plan and desire can make you more disciplined. Strategies such as restricting personal phone calls to lunch breaks and using time management apps can also improve self-discipline.
8. Commitment to purpose
Courage and commitment to purpose are closely related. Purpose inspires leaders and brings meaning to their roles. Courage drives leaders forward and makes them willing to achieve their purpose. Leaders who feel committed to their purpose have the fortitude to respond to and address challenges. Their commitment helps them move towards their goals, rather than away from them. Leaders who show their commitment to purpose can also inspire others to feel the same commitment.
Developing commitment to purpose often happens naturally when you understand why you're aiming for a goal. Keeping the goal and reason for striving for it in the front of your mind can help you develop your commitment to purpose. Empowering your team by delegating key tasks to them and reinforcing the importance of their role can help them share your commitment.
Being decisive takes courage, as it requires committing to a decision and accepting the consequences of making it. Courageous leaders understand and accept that decision-making always carries a degree of risk. They also know that moving forward in some way is better than staying in the same place.
You can become more decisive by allocating a set period for research. Learning all you can in this period can help you feel confident that you're making decisions based on fact and logic. Setting a time limit for research also makes sure you only gather the information you need to make a choice. Otherwise, you may use research to procrastinate on making the decision. Once you make your decision, remind yourself that you made the best one possible. Forgive yourself for any negative outcomes and consider what you could do differently. With practise, most leaders make better decisions over time.
Innovating takes courage, as it requires stepping outside known techniques and trying something new. Whenever you try something new, there's some degree of risk. Many people are resistant to change, so inspiring them to embrace innovation can also be challenging. Courageous leaders accept that while innovating may be challenging, it can lead to a better product, service or solution.
You can become more innovative by surrounding yourself with inspiration. Consuming a variety of media and assembling a diverse team, for example, can expose you to new ideas and ways of doing things. These ideas can inspire new ideas in you. Asking yourself how you could do things differently is also another way to drive innovation.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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