Question of the Month: Why does Legitimate Leadership regard courage at work as so important?
Answer: If a person (like a leader) is in a relationship to give, the conventional view is that giving is about generosity. But in the Legitimate Leadership Model the often less-talked-about way of giving is about courage.
We find that courage is by far the rarer form of giving, which is partly why Legitimate Leadership emphasizes it.
Of the two (generosity and courage), courage is also the harder to get right. This is because being generous involves rising above a loss of things – the price we pay for being generous is generally not high.
Being courageous involves much more risk as there is usually an issue at play which presents the possibility of real and serious consequences. What the person stands to lose makes acting courageously difficult, and for some, impossible.
Courage is critical in the workplace because the absence of it leads people to give in to their fears, rather than rising above them.
In leadership, acting with courage means much more than disciplining your people. Caring about your people may require courage in making yourself vulnerable. Providing the means for your people may require courage to challenge policies and standards, or your manager or your colleagues. Cultivating ability may require the courage to coach others to the point where you are replaceable. Praising and rewarding people may require the courage to spend money on doing so when it is unpopular to do so. Being prepared to single out exceptional performers for reward instead of just rewarding the “herd” will require courage.
The good news is that courage is not a matter of ability or skill, it is a matter of the will, and exercising it gets easier with practice.