day 8: Courage
Taking a stand, for anything, requires courage. Courage is knowing what’s right and then acting on it.
During the Nazi occupation of his country in WWII, King Christian X of Denmark noticed a Nazi flag flying over a Danish public building. He immediately called the German commandant, demanding that the flag be taken down at once. The commandant refused. “Then a soldier will go and take it down,” said the king.
“He will be shot,” threatened the commandant. “I think not,” replied the king, “for I shall be the soldier.” Within minutes the flag was taken down. The king was courageous, took his stand and he prevailed.
Inspiring leaders don’t settle for what conditions are forced upon them. They don’t just buy into what everybody else is saying, and they don’t follow the beaten path. Inspiring leaders are constantly creating their own conditions for success by blazing new trails.
Courage is doing something you are afraid to do. The word “courage” is derived from the Medieval Old French term “corage,” meaning “heart and spirit.”
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, applied this definition and took his stand when Starbucks wanted to move into a particular international market. Schultz was discouraged by every analysis he read, and spent over a half a million dollars on consultants, who all told him not to go. Further, all of his direct reports were against the move.
On the advice of one of his mentors, Warren Bennis, he met again with his team, listening to their concerns, answering their questions and asking for their support. In the end, he had mobilized the support of his management team, and as Bennis had encouraged, he went with his heart, with what he thought was right and entered the market in question. Schultz stood his ground and, ultimately, was able to score another successful expansion of Starbucks into the international marketplace.
Rarely are leadership decisions black or white, so inspiring leaders take in available data, then muster the courage to make the best decision in that moment for the right reasons.
1. When did I demonstrate leadership courage in the past?
2. What about that situation enabled me to act with courage?
3. How can I apply my past experience to help me courageously address a current challenge?