Leadership is not always easy; the challenges can be overwhelming at times. In my experience there is not a great deal of difference between leading a small business, a large team or an international organisation. The fundamentals of leadership are the same; authenticity, honesty, trust, accountability to name a few.
A key survival technique is the understanding that stressful situations come with the leadership territory, we just have to be brave enough to step up, face the situation and work on a solution.
The good news is that our greatest growth comes from adversity
It is in the most challenging of times that we really develop our leadership skills.
On my own leadership journey, I have faced many challenges; at times they have felt overwhelming, particularly when I established the charity I run in Vietnam (ACCV). When I established ACCV I really didn’t know what I was doing. Trying to lead volunteers is a leadership test I had never faced. When you have no salary or career promotions to leverage off you need to have something to really engage the team. That is your vision and purpose.
It is exactly the same in business.
It really doesn’t matter how large or small your business is, whether you are a solo operator or the head of a large company you will need to develop your leadership skills to succeed. To be a good leader definitely requires you to be brave at times.
What happens when a leader is not brave?
I think we can all recall working for someone who didn’t lead effectively. They wouldn’t delegate when they should, they didn’t have the courage to deal with difficult situations and people, and they wouldn’t make the tough calls. They weren’t brave enough to lead.
The outcome for leaders who aren’t brave is not good. They don’t foster loyalty in their team, they don’t know how to get out of working IN their business so they can strategically work ON their business, and they don’t have the big picture in mind.
As women we need to be brave. As much as we have a gender pay gap we also have a gender confidence gap. This lack of confidence is one of the major reasons women don’t step up for leadership roles.
Being brave is a little like exercise, the more we do it the easier it becomes.
Those around us take note of our courage and show us more respect, which in turn builds our confidence and encourages us to step up again next time. It becomes a cycle that feeds on itself, just as fear and anxiety does.
Fear can really hold us back; it can hold the team and ultimately the business back. When we fear delegating because we don’t want to lose control, or we fear sharing our knowledge because we don’t trust, or we fear training and empowering others because we like being the knowledgeable one we are leaving no room for growth.
It is easy to justify our fears, when you’ve worked so hard it’s not easy to let go of control, it’s uncomfortable. But being brave and getting outside of your comfort zone is well worth it.
We need to have the courage to speak up, to take risks and to empower others.
When we do, we are in fact empowering ourselves so much more. When you take action and make those courageous choices you will be surprised at just how quickly your leadership skills will grow.
Courage, like leadership, begins with the self. When you next face a situation that is confronting or challenging, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I shying away from dealing with this situation?
- What do I stand to lose by stepping away?
- What do I stand to gain by stepping up?
- If I step up and it fails how will I recover?
- Are there ways I can reduce the risk of failure?
- Will I regret doing this?
- Will I regret not doing this?
- If I step up to the challenge can I benefit others?
Think about your responses to these questions. I’m sure you’ll find the benefits of being brave will far outweigh the negatives.
Go ahead, be a strong, brave woman leader. The world needs more of us!