A 2022 Leadership Essential

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What is the 2022 Leadership Essential?  Well, that is easy – you simply must be like Dorothy! Yes.  Hang in there for a moment and it will become very clear.


Who knows what challenges lie ahead for leaders in 2022? We hope for no surprises, but in what year do you remember where there were none?  No matter what is in front of you this year, remember this one thing – as a leader, you will need courage to properly address it!


Winston Churchill wrote, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…. Because it is the quality which guarantees all others”.  You might say that courage is the cornerstone of leadership.  Without it, you lack a leadership foundation. 


Do you think you are a courageous person and leader? You are likely familiar with the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz.  After reading this blog, watch it again and see if you view it differently than before. Remember the scene when Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man and Scarecrow became acquainted with the Lion. If you recall, Lion was bullying Scarecrow and then Tin Man.  Both cowered before the “King of the Jungle”.  That seemed the sensible thing to do, even with Tin Man’s axe in hand, because after all, he was King of the Jungle. 


Then, after being chased by Lion, Dorothy stopped and confronted him.  That’s when everyone realized that Lion was really the Cowardly Lion. As usual there was an upside in this upside-down situation for Lion. He experienced self-realization!  “Yes, I am a coward. I even scare myself sometimes” Lion said. Have you ever scared yourself? 


And what about Dorothy?  The smallest (besides Toto) of all of them, she displayed great courage. Amidst her fear she confronted the King of the Jungle.  Her act was an outstanding example for all leaders.


So, ask yourself how you deal with fear.  Do you react or respond?  Do you go into fight mode or flight mode?  Or do you simply freeze and become paralyzed by it? Remember what her companions did.  They were immediately submissive and curled up on the ground. 


And what about the conversation Dorothy had with the Lion?  She confronted him but not in a mean way.  It was about as good as anyone could handle a crucial conversation.  How do you conduct crucial conversations? For help, read the book Crucial Conversations (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler).


The most important people in that scene to Dorothy were everyone except herself. During crucial conversations, who is usually most important to you?


One definition of courage is “The ability to control your fear in a dangerous or tricky situation.” Wow!  Dorothy’s actions are a perfect illustration of that definition.


In the absence of fear, there is no courage.  Why?  Because you don’t need it! If you are not afraid you need not muster up courage. 


And finally, if there are no options to bail out, no courage is required. Do you know what bailing out feels like? They all bailed out under Lion pressure, except Dorothy, who once again set the pace and led the way!


Leadership requires a good deal of courage, because leadership is not easy, and it can be lonely. Leaders must dare to be different and dare to make mistakes… not intentionally of course but making a mistake and paying the price for doing so is never fun!  Yet, you know that making mistakes often allows you to learn what you never otherwise would. It takes courage to stand up for what is right, because it may be very unpopular with others.  Have you ever experienced that?  And seeing failures as steppingstones and not millstones also takes courage.  It separates average from achieving people. John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward is a must read for understanding that concept.


Think about some other actions that take courage:

  1. Being transparent and honest
  2. Asking for help
  3. Admitting you are wrong
  4. Giving others the credit and allowing them to shine
  5. Putting others first
  6. Making decisions for long term good that may have unpopular short-term implications
  7. Being yourself
  8. Being vulnerable
  9. Being confident


Why is building courage so difficult? Because fear gets in the way.  So, what should you do about that? You need to face your fears! Recall the scene from the movie and remember, there is no courage in the absence of fear. Consider that fear is sometimes a good thing…it may keep you from jumping off a 100-foot cliff into shallow water! But much of the time fear is only False Evidence Appearing Real, which means the only thing to fear is fear itself.  Too often fear derails, debilitates, and sometimes even defines us if we become consumed by it. So why put up with it?


Did you know that we are born with only 2 fears (falling and loud noises), but today there exist about 2,000 fears? So, remember that the road to success is often the road less traveled. Why? Because it is filled with potholes and often covered with invisible ice. Joyce Meyer wrote “You won’t see the end if you give up in the middle.” If something scares you, you need to address it! It won’t go away!


Nelson Mandela once said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”


Here is a 10-step suggested plan of action to help develop the skill of courage: 

  1. Conduct a self-assessment to determine who you are and where you are at. Be honest! Use DISC, Strength Finder, or several other free assessment tests.
  2. Determine who you want to become and where you want to go. Be realistic but stretch yourself, your team, your company. Anything worth attaining will be all uphill.
  3. Get in the game by structuring a step-by-step plan to begin to close your courage gap. Move boldly out of your comfort zone!
  4. Find yourself a mentor!
  5. Fill your mind with solid leadership material. Training. Books. Videos. Movies. Positive thoughts. Positive self-talk and so on.
  6. Hang around with winners! Don’t hang with Negative Nancy! Hang instead with Positive Polly.
  7. Watch yourself grow. You will be amazed and pleased!
  8. Pay close attention to how things are different within and around you.
  9. Never stop or give up! You will be glad you stayed the course!
  10. Do it like Dorothy!

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