What does it mean to be a courageous leader?  Brené Brown defines a courageous leader as someone who leans into difficult conversations, who shows up with vulnerability and does not hide, even if things are uncertain and challenging. Vulnerability is about stepping up, even if we make mistakes, owning up to our mistakes, asking for help and being true to ourselves.

Courageous Leadership can be tough because often, we do not have control over the outcomes. Leadership comes with failures, and it comes with big challenges. We have to manage a lot of different people and circumstances along the way. 

We often think that Leadership is just about managing other people and getting them to do certain things and ultimately to move up the leadership ladder. However, Leadership is way more complex than that. For Leaders to have an impact on other people, they need to lead themselves first to understand how they show up and create inspiration and motivation. No matter if you’re an emerging leader, experienced leader or a small business owner, you have to start by leading and understanding yourself first.

We define Self-Leadership as knowing and understanding ourselves, our emotions, our strengths, motivators and drivers when things get tough or feel uncertain. As well as the impact we have on the people that we lead.

There are three key parts to Self Leadership – internal self-awareness, external self-awareness and self-actualisation.

Internal Self-Awareness

Internal self-awareness means that you learn to become aware and tune in to your thoughts and your emotions. It’s essential to understand what triggers your emotions. How do these emotions impact your thoughts, behaviours and actions? 

Lean in and reflect why you behaved in certain ways? What triggered you to feel angry, threatened, frustrated? Start to become more mindful.

Another vital part of internal self-awareness is awareness around your strengths.

Reflecting on your natural talent,s things you are good at and how they can support you in your role will help you to grow trust in your abilities and our confidence. It will help you to beat imposter syndrome,  the fear of being found out as a fraud and that you don’t have what it takes. 

Finally, a big part of internal self-awareness is to understand and define your leadership brand. To define your leadership brand, you need to reflect and answer the following questions: What are our values? What’s your mission? What’s your vision? What is your purpose? 

Our leadership purpose is your big WHY. To lead effectively, you need to inspire others and get them to believe in what you believe. 

External Self Awareness

The second part of self-awareness is external self-awareness. 

Even when you are internally self-aware, there might still be a big difference between how you see yourself and how other people actually see you. How do you come across? How are your actions and behaviours impacting others?

Do the people you work with feel inspired? Are they feeling frustrated or irritated? Do they understand what you’re here to do, your vision and purpose?  

You must regularly reflect on that and ask for feedback because depending on who you manage, you might have to adapt your approach. Not everybody is going to react in the same way.  

The key to inspiring others and have the impact we desire is to know how to talk and what to say to ensure that your team understands and relates to your leadership brand.

Courageous Leadership
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Self-Actualisation

The last part of self-leadership is self-actualisation. There are a few different aspects of Self-actualisation. 

The first is about self-management and self-control. Through your internal self-awareness, you are able to understand your emotions, triggers and how they impact your thoughts and behaviours. Self-control helps you to manage these emotions before you act on them.  Managing your emotions effectively helps you to be in a more centred state for your team meetings and conversations. That will allow you to build much stronger relationships. 

It will also allow you to adapt quickly to difficult situations. 

Another aspect of self-actualisation is to set ourselves goals and targets so that you always have something that you’re working towards to.

That is key to leading by example, but also key to really energise yourself again and again when working towards objectives. 

An essential part of self-actualisation is also taking responsibility for ourselves, our behaviours and our actions. You are in charge of your decisions, actions and your future. 

And it’s also important to take responsibility for our part of any relationship. Whether there is conflict or misunderstandings, you always play a particular part in it. 

You have the power to change things and take a different direction. And you also have the responsibility to make the tough decisions when you are a leader. Owning that responsibility is key for self-leadership.

Finally, a crucial point to self-actualisation is managing your resilience support kit to help you handle any situation that might come your way. Do you know how to bounce back? How to motivate yourself? How to pick yourself back up when things get tough?  How do you manage your mental and emotional load?  

Knowing this and working on it is really important because it ensures that you can persevere and energise others when things get tough.

For example, when your team is going through a difficult situation, you might have to quickly manage your emotional energy levels and then motivate the team and help them see a path forward. Building your resilience toolkit is key to Self-Leadership.

Final thoughts

Are you ready to be a leader of yourself? If you want to consume more about this topic, I have published a podcast episode on this topic. Listen now or watch on YouTube.

courageous leadership

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