10 Key Traits of Courageous Leaders


With workplace stress at the highest levels in years, there’s never been more demand for courageous leaders. As the economy starts to rebound, people willing to step forward and take risks will eventually come out as winners.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Demonstrating leadership can be a scary proposition. It might mean having uncomfortable conversations, giving the go-ahead decision on a new project, or communicating when you don’t have all the answers. Want to get better at it? Here are 10 common traits of courageous leaders.

1. Seek feedback. We all have blind spots that influence how we interact with others. The best way to deal with blind spots is to receive unfiltered feedback. This isn’t always easy to hear, but it can improve your leadership style.

2. Lead change. In many workplaces, people focus on protecting the status quo. If you want them to engage, you need to envision a better solution. You must also approach it with an open mind and determination while being ready to make mid-course corrections.

3. Encourage dissent. Many leaders feel that they’re supposed to have all the answers. What you should do instead is encourage healthy debates and constructive dissent. That way, you show faith in your team and prove the value of diverse opinions.

4. Confront reality. Seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses won’t help you lead your business or organization. Face the facts and learn all there’s to know about the true current state of affairs.

5. Hold everyone accountable. Expect people to deliver on their promises. If they don’t follow through, call them out on it. Keep in mind that accountability begins with you — be the example you want others to follow.

6. Communicate frequently and openly. Not having all the answers is no reason to close your lines of communications. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to admit it. If you have something to share with your team, do it.

7. Give credit where needed. Instead of looking for praise, give it to the people around you. Good leaders take on more blame than they might deserve and receive less than their fair share of the credit.

8. Say what must be said. Important conversations can be uncomfortable, particularly if they involve conflict. Still, having these conversations is often the only way to move through issues. This involves you voicing your true opinions, as unpopular as they may be.

9. Make your decisions and move on. In environments of intense change, committing to a decision often seems scary. This can lead to analysis paralysis. Most of the time, forward movement will provide much better results than being stuck in place.

10. Deal with people issues. Many leaders ignore people issues until they evolve into a toxic threat to the team’s overall performance. Instead of waiting, take swift action to reassign or fire problem employees. In the long run, this will only help the organization.