• Keith Wells

The courage to lead

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave are not those who do not feel fear, but those who conquer that fear.” Nelson Mandela.

Courage is a response to fear however, you can’t demonstrate courage unless you’re afraid.

To be courageous is to stay and confront fear even though you’re afraid – this means allowing yourself to stay present with your fearful feelings and then deal with them. When we demonstrate courage, the best of ourselves emerges and who we are becomes more visible. Self-satisfaction comes from knowing we are doing something which is difficult for us.

Courage is often defined as acting despite being afraid. The key point is that courage is fearful. Having the courage to be courageous means backing-up our courageous words in the way that we behave and in our actions.

When we think of courage, we tend to think of situations where our back is against the wall. It is easier to be brave when the only other option is defeat. Harder still can be the courage that is called for when as leaders we try to do things differently, because we think that is the right way to go. It’s about moving out of our comfort zones to take us from good to best.

No one else is asking for it or expecting it, only ourselves.

Of course, it's not easy, but it can be learned. In our latest podcast, Jo Larbie and I talked about a range of aspects of courage - and how it relates specifically to leadership of professional firms. The first of our three conversations is available here:

If you'd like to explore these ideas in more detail, we'd be delighted to hear from you: or or

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