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Some Thoughts About Bold Leadership

Why is Bold Leadership more important now? In these difficult times people and organizations have a tendency to withdraw, become defensive and risk averse. It is essential that leaders, and indeed you and I, are willing to make bold decisions that allow everyone to move forward despite this inertia and fear ridden environment.

But let’s not confuse bold with reckless. In the face of a crisis, some people have a panicky knee jerk reaction. A good example was the recent budget presented by Prime Minister Truss of the UK. In attempting to be the heroic and courageous savior of the nation she was effectively committing hari kari. Her budget was ill considered and impulsive and consequently, she lost her job. 

For the sake of this article, we can assume that a bold leader is someone who is looking to make a positive impact in the world. A bold leader can emerge in any walk of life. Bold leadership is a type of skill and can be developed. It needs a blend of careful preparation and planning mixed with audacity, imagination, and risk taking. It is not about Impetuous decisions that are selfish and inconsiderate of their impact on others.

You do not have to be loud or Superwoman to be a bold leader. People love authenticity and a bold approach can be inspiring and motivating especially during these challenging times. A bold leader is typically someone who is exciting to be around and has a vision that captures the imagination and gives meaning to the work of the team or organization.

Are you a bold leader? Do you aspire to be one? Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • In the best sense, you mustn’t care about what others think. When you stick your neck out you should expect some ‘flak’. At the same time, one needs to remain calm, balanced, and respectful in responding to the naysayers. Don’t seek others’ approval or pursue strategies just to please people. Be strong in your beliefs about what is the right thing to do.
  • Self-awareness is crucial. Be aware of how limited you are by history, both personal and otherwise. Then you can choose an alternative future. Timid leaders tend to say “That’s not possible because … (what has occurred to date) while bold leaders typically are not prevented by existing beliefs or history from imagining and creating new solutions.
  • Mindset: Comfortable with discomfort. It ‘comes with the territory’ A bold leader is inevitably constantly testing the limits and moving beyond his or her comfort zone. 

Apart from these aspects of self-management, the following are some characteristics that typically indicate a bold leader:

  • Keep the faith over time and provide hope to others 
  • Creates something that didn’t exist before
  • Willing to challenge the status quo
  • Risk taking and open to failure
  • Courageous
  • Imaginative
  • Acts on behalf of the ‘whole’ versus ‘self’

Reflection Exercise: what one or two items from above would you like to improve and why?

And then there’s the mystical/spiritual aspect of bold action. 

Have you ever been faced with a ‘blank’ future – maybe a divorce or a loss of a job? And then your only choice is to take a risk and jump into the unknown. This takes courage and a trust that you will land somewhere! Even better if you have identified your purpose and are willing to commit to a path that represents fully who you really are.

There is a clear connection between being committed and being bold. When you commit you put a stake in the ground which takes courage because you are publicly stating your intention and cannot hide.

This is one of my all time favorite quotes and I think it’s a good way to finish this short collection of ideas. You may have seen it before but please take a moment to reflect and relate to your own life.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – W.H. Murray

Reflection Exercise: think of two real-life bold leaders you admire. What makes them bold?

My examples are:

  1. Anwar Sadat who risked his life to travel to Israel in 1973 to catalyze the Camp David peace accords
  1. Sir Richard Branson who pivoted from selling discounted rock records to founding a major airline. This required vision and imagination.

What are yours?

 

Michael Banks 

February 2023

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