“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Recall from last week, the three acts of a courageous leader from the book, Courage: The backbone of leadership by Gus Lee:
- Honoring all persons
- Encouraging and supporting others
- Challenging wrongs
This week, I focus on the second act. Lee discusses that courageous leadership is a muscle that permits character-based leaders to act rightly regardless of pressure and changing circumstances. We demonstrate encouragement by unconditionally respecting, recognizing and thanking people throughout the organization. And we demonstrate support by immediately responding to their need for right action.
Encouragement is relational. It is the giving of courage. The giving of courage is the high power of camaraderie and the presence of approval and hope. These are strengths of humanity and relationships. The giving of courage is supporting, reinforcing, and rallying people to right behaviors, to high core values and excellent standards, and to courage itself.
We do this first by demonstrating courage, getting to know our people – watching, coaching, and developing them so that we can instantly affirm their rightful behaviors and demonstrated competencies. Second, we make our need for pride in each person crystal clear, “I need you. I respect you. I’m very proud of you.”
These are not mere words. If words are used to support wrongful behavior, then it is not encouragement. It is abetting and manipulating. Encouragement must arise from the heart of the encourager – the courageous leader – as opposed to the recipient’s need for affirmation. It is not self-esteem.
Encouragement is given for progress toward the development of high core values, behaviors, habits, skills, and competencies. It does not mean that it should be given for failures, but it must be delivered for true effort. It means that leaders must continue to encourage for effort AND then provide continued support for potential success with teaching, tutoring, and coaching.
Encouragement and support have exponential and transformational power, and immediately available to all. Those who choose NOT to encourage does so at their own (and the organization’s) risk.
This week, let us put this act into action. Give courage to someone who is demonstrating the organization’s core values, behaviors, habits, and skills and competencies. And provide support by continued mentoring and coaching. Don’t just do it in words. Be the example.
It is not what you say that lives on after your time. Nor is it what you write or even what you build. It is the example that you set – the things that you live by that will carry on and perhaps transform others.