How Courage Enables you to Reach the Top of Every Leadership Development Mountain (Leadership Courage)
As a mom, and a leadership development coach, I’m overjoyed when I hear my daughter’s words: ‘Mom, did you know that many of my co-workers in Tanzania call me “Kichwa Moto!” In Swahili, their language it means hot-headed. I refuse to give up!’
I smile! One definition of hot-headed is quick-tempered and irresponsible. Knowing Danae, I’m wondering, ” Is this what her co-workers are thinking? It doesn’t seem to match with what I know of her.”
Another synonym for “hot-headed,” is “headstrong” – energetically willful and determined! That makes more sense to the Danae I know!
I believe Danae’s Swahili nickname can be attributed to her Finnish roots. “Not willing to give up,” describes the concept of Sisu. A concept embraced by my Finnish ancestors. Read more about this powerful word, Sisu.
In this series, Danae tells us about her once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s climbing to the top of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.
She continues…” There’s one leadership lesson from climbing that mountain I’ll never forget. It’s what distinguishes those who make it to the top from those who don’t.
Here’s the Leadership Lesson: it’s not physical ability that matters. It’s your mindset. You have to believe that you will make it.”
Danae’s Kilimanjaro experience requires extraordinary courage. Your leadership journey today isn’t any less daunting. Almost daily I hear the concerns of successful senior leaders facing extraordinary challenges. From an Era of Exponential Progress to Digital Disruption to Cancel Culture. Some leaders see all these changes as a positive. Others see it as a negative.
Regardless of which view you hold, it’s a time of rapid flux and movement!
How about you? What is happening in your leadership world that requires extraordinary Sisu courage?
Gain Awareness of the Challenges that Impact your Leadership Influence
Winston Churchill captures the importance of developing a courageous mindset. “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because…it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
Danae’s Kilimanjaro adventure illustrates the challenges that leaders are facing today. As her story unfolds, I’m intrigued by her research on why 50% of climbers don’t make it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
In this series, I take a deep dive into the challenges relating to your leadership journey. Here is a summary of the important leadership strategy lessons you might learn from the climbers’ experiences:
- Fuel your Leadership Oxygen with a Courageous Character. Many climbers choose the shortest route. The result? They fail due to a lack of oxygen. Today’s challenges also have the potential to steal your Leadership Oxygen. If your character core isn’t strong you stall out trying to catch your breath.
- Fight a Negative Mindset with Courage, Confidence, and Gratitude. A negative mindset is unhealthy for any leader. It’s a confidence crusher. An unhealthy Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture sabotages your ability to achieve goals and dreams. It saps vital spiritual, motivational, and emotional energy. You need a healthy Leadership Mindset to confront this cancer.
- Foster Strong Collaboration with Others to Strengthen your Leadership Impact. Many climbers don’t have the support they need. A trusted, experienced, and skilled guide is a must-have in your”mountaineering kit.”
So, what might you need to climb your leadership mountains?
Watch my video 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Climbing your Leadership Strategy Mountain Here:
3 Leadership Strategies to Expand Your Leadership Influence
Here is a short summary of the leadership strategies we talk about in the Sisu Courage Series. We focus on developing that special brand of courage in these three areas…
Strengthen your character core and you’ll build the capacity for more Leadership Oxygen. A solid core fuels the courage you need to take responsibility to stand up to the attacks you may face on a personal, moral, and collective level.
We draw inspiration from a great leadership development book, Lessons in Leadership, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. He states… “A leader is one who takes responsibility. Leadership is born when we become active, rather ran passive, when we do not wait for someone else to act because perhaps there is no one else! At least not here, not now.” Sacks talk about responsibility and accountability on three different levels…
- Personal responsibility. Embrace a mindset of accountability to stay healthy on all levels. This includes spiritual/motivational, relational, physical, intellectual, and financial. The way to a strong culture starts with each person addressing his or her own growth areas.
- Moral responsibility. As leaders, we have a Gatekeeper role. In the words of Rabbi Sacks, “Moral responsibility demands that we don’t look the other way when we see injustice. Instead, we register protest, because our silence may be regarded as consent.” As a vision-casting leader, you have the courage not to conform.
- Collective responsibility. Make a Domino Difference with small actions. Take collective responsibility with other parents, grandparents, and community members. Small actions make a huge impact, and they need Sisu courage.
Being constantly surrounded by negativity adversely impacts your mindset, regardless of your emotional strength. SISU Courage energizes you to reach the top of your leadership mountain. A Criticism, Condemn, and Complain Culture equals a toxic trap and is a confidence crusher.
The timeless principle of gratitude develops a Leadership Mindset anchored in Courageous Confidence.
- Spur leadership development opportunities to crush criticism. Activate your powerful gratefulness muscle by changing your perspective on criticism. When faced with criticism, you have a choice. You can feel less confident, or, be grateful for insightful comments and advice. A grateful mindset strengthens your confidence.
- Strengthen your vision, values, and virtues to cancel condemnation. We’re dealing with the constant clutter of cultural, political, relational, and spiritual change. This calls for you to double-check your personal Vision, Values, and Virtues Statements. Clarity on your vision, values, and virtues helps you build a special brand of courage. Then, withstand the onslaught of Exponential Growth, Digital Disruption, and Cancel Culture.
- Spark innovation and creativity to cure complaining. When the need to complain becomes pervasive, it’s time for a strong dose of gratefulness! Gratitude produces positive juices in your brain! You need to be creative, innovative, and open to new possibilities.
A trusted, and skilled guide is a must in every Leadership Toolkit, especially during challenging times.
To strengthen courageous collaboration, consider the following:
- Gaining awareness. Facing your inner world and gaining an awareness of what is going on, requires extreme courage – Sisu Courage. In the past, you used external experts to grow. To help you grow yourself, your staff, and your business or organization. The same principle still applies. Work with a guide or coach to deal with the unique challenges of the Era of Exponential Progress, Digital Disruption, and Cancel Culture. It’s a courageous step forward to consider engaging a guide or coach.
- Finding the right guide. A coach might be a right fit for one season, but not for another – for one issue, but not for another. It requires discernment to figure it out. And when you’re dealing with private and sensitive issues, you want a guide you can trust. David Horsager is my go-to trust expert. Based on the “8 Pillars of Trust” we define the quality guidelines you need in your guide.
- Spotlight strengths. An expert leadership coach helps you finetune your leadership skills and strengths. Then, you become more intentional and strategic in moving forward to reach your goals.
A coach like Tom Blaylock uses the Five Capitals framework with a tailor-made program for leaders like you. The Leader Intensive Program provides insight as you chart a path to personal and professional growth.
A Courageous Mindset Enables You to Reach the Top of Every Leadership Mountain
Danae is emotional as the shares the final moments of her once-in-a-lifetime adventure… “Finally in the distance, I see it. Uhuru Peak. Uhuru means freedom! There is the marker and behind it is a vast, undisturbed glacier with clouds all around and below us. It is breathtaking. My eyes tear up again at the sight of the indescribable beauty. Some of my friends had never seen snow before. With renewed energy, they’re walking around in the pristine, white wonderland. We can’t spend too much time here. I can see the guide is getting ready to start our descent. But we can’t leave. Not yet.
One of my friends fell behind, and he has not made it to the top yet. We had talked and dreamed about this moment and now he isn’t here to share it with us. And then we see him. He is slowly making his way to where we are. We run to him. Hugs, tears of joy, laughter. Together we started and together we finish. I look at my friends.
This is a perfect moment. This is the moment I will think about long into the future. A moment that defines me as being “Kichwa Moto” or “stubborn.” Not willing to give up on myself and not willing to give up on the people around me. At this moment I realize that when people believe in, and push each other, mighty things will happen.”
How does your leadership journey compare to Danae’s Kilimanjaro adventure? Are you in the Fear Zone, Learning Zone, or Growing Zone? What are the challenges that are holding you back?
- Is it a lack of Leadership Oxygen?
- Do you want to strengthen your Leadership Mindset and get rid of the Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture?
- Do you want to upgrade your Leadership Toolkit, and fit the right guide?
What is your view of the Era of Exponential Progress, Digital Disruption, and the Cancel Culture? Is it positive or negative? The great news is, it doesn’t really matter. It’s your new season of life. You have been strategically called to lead and serve at this time in history.
As I mentioned in the first article of this series, the more I see the destruction and chaos created by conventional leadership practices, the more I realize that new strategies are needed. Old paradigms won’t work. Many would lead you to believe that it’s better, safer, and easier for you, your family, your company, and your organization, to keep silent in the face of moral and cultural decay. To go with the flow.
I disagree. When you think things are moving in the wrong direction morally, culturally, technologically, and economically, you are called to be counter-cultural. You’re designed to be a courageous leader who stands up for what you know is right. You will not let your complacency crush what is morally and ethically right. Your strength comes from your ability to live courageously.
In Lessons in Leadership, Rabbi Sacks writes:
‘Harvard economic historian David Landes in his book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations explores the question of why some countries failed to grow economically while others succeed spectacularly. After more than 500 pages of close analysis, he reaches his conclusion:
In this world, the optimist has it, not because they are always right, but because they are always positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way to achievement, correction, improvement, and success. Educated, eyes open optimism pages; pessimism can only be after the empty cancellation of being right.
I prefer the word “hope” to “optimism.” Optimism is the belief that things will get better; hope is the belief that together we can make things better.’ (page 201)
During these tumultuous times, you need and want fresh leadership insights. You seek W.I.N.D. (Wisdom, Insight, Knowledge, and Discernment). You seek hope.
And, Sisu Courage enables you to climb your leadership mountain with all its obstacles.
My sincere hope is that the Sisu Courage Series energizes and equips you spiritually/motivationally, relationally, physically, mentally, and financially. You were born for such a time as this! When you develop courage, and confidence, and build collaborative relationships, everyone thrives!
Your leadership matters, NOW, more than ever.
This article was published in my April Newsletter. You can get a copy HERE.
You can read all the articles in the Sisu Courage Series by clicking on the links below:
Leadership Development Lesson: Sisu courage enables you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Leadership Development Question: What might you do to develop even more courage? Courage to face today’s extraordinary leadership mountains.