Collective Courage or Cowardice

Collective Cowardice or CourageWhen you list adjectives that describe a leader, what words would be on that list?

For many of us, words like strong, determined and courageous would probably be near the top of the list, don’t you think? We like our leaders to be brave and strong and determined. Everyone loves a heroic character.

When you list adjectives that describe a highly functioning and successful team, what words would be on that list?

Are they the same sounding words? Unfortunately, not. You find words like collaborative, cooperative and open.

Why don’t we use the same list of adjectives when referring to teams?

Here is the leadership principle.

When the team lacks courage, it is all too often because the leader lacks courage. Or, as has been said many times before, the team will not rise higher than the level of their leader. And further, in the absence of courage, you often find teams that are defensive, cautious, averse to risk and focused on maintenance to the detriment of expansion and growth.

So, as a leader, what should you do? You need to manifest courage and determination at all times. This is not a license to run roughshod over the team. But you must lead in stretching beyond your own comfort zone. You must encourage the team to step it up and you need to likewise be OK when it takes some members a while to get their “game face” on.

The alternative? Collective cowardice and shared failure. And who wants that?


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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

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