There’s a difference between true bravery, and acting tough.
In his article ‘Failure Is An Option’ Simon Sinek addresses bravery when he states, “to operate based on conviction and belief requires an acceptance that your actions could get you fired. This is different from pig-headed bravado, and it is different from putting the company at risk”.
There is an omnipresent culture of business bluster and bravado lurking around at present. It’s a game of pretence, and false promises. It is the mindset of ‘I will give enough to look like I am performing above expectations while secretly cruising my way to the next week – or role’. Many leaders are only showing the tip of the business performance iceberg, being content to sit on one’s hands while nodding furiously and giving every indication of leading change. It is ‘fake it till you make it’ without ever making it, not engaging wholly or giving completely — despite having the ability to do so.
Bravado may show itself as not speaking up when there’s any chance of disagreement, or refusing to take an active role in the professional development of those coming through the ranks. It can be refusing to disclose one’s own actions until you’re sure of a compliment. It can be acting ‘for the good of the company’ by staying quiet when the status quo is not ethical. It can rear its head as an unwillingness to learn or as being too busy to take on new experiences. Bravado makes excuses. Leaders that operate with bravado are ultimately scared, and are often unwilling to change.
Brave leaders, on the other hand, strive to be change-makers for themselves and others; constantly curious about how to improve themselves, the way things are done within the company, the sector, the industry or even the community. They have the courage to:
- Share what they know
- Step into, share and relinquish the spotlight when appropriate
- Openly ask for help
- Embrace different ways of working
- Encourage diversity and the difference of opinions it brings
- Question their own position
- Try and fail
- Challenge the status quo because that’s how change happens
Being a changemaker isn’t easy, it’s a risk. Self-belief is required to challenge tradition; the sentiment that ‘it’s always been like that’.
Leaders have to be brave – because if they’re not, why would their employees be??