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 Change Requires Courage   

“Optimism is true moral courage” 
(Ernest Shackleton) 
 
It is submitted that courage is a habit, which means that like all habits “it can be learned.”[1] 
 
 
There is great value in Aristotle’s idea that ‘courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible’. Great courage is necessary and found in all examples of great leadership. Without it, a leader could not effectively instil a collective vision that transcends that of any particular individual. It is those who fail to listen, learn or act courageously that miss the opportunity of taking the steps necessary to challenge the status quo, stutter in 
initiating positive change, and thus fail to achieve a ‘ high performing team’. To learn the habit of courage, therefore, would seem beneficial to any leader. 
 
In 2009 an article in the Harvard Business Review proclaimed that economic and political instability and its associated challenges would lead to “a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges.”[2] 
 
Despite this warning we seem to have witnessed the steady recovery of the global markets and the consequent emergence of bullish optimism. This, in general, has created a diminished sense of urgency  
for leadership reform. However, given the examples of both the political crisis in the Middle East and Ukraine and signs that some economies could relapse, one wonders whether Leaders, both political and corporate, have placed the “desire to be right” above the necessary “desire to achieve the right outcome”.[3] 
 
Whilst many blame the escalation of the political crises on a failure of global political leadership, many commentators have noted similar failures in corporate leadership that has led to the return to practices that caused the financial crisis – an inescapable herd instinct resulting in risky ‘short-termism’.[4] 
 
 
In light of these recent failures it seems more important than ever to learn the lesson that success today requires leaders to ‘unlearn’ the knowledge and answers that have fuelled past successes.  
This requires great courage in one’s convictions but seems to be the key to instigating, inspiring and motivating a workplace towards a vision that goes 
 
beyond the immediate future; beyond a strategy based on probability and towards one that centres around possibility. 
 
At Footdown, our diagnostic helps to uncover the uncomfortable truths within the leadership of organisations that can aid the adaptation necessary to compete in uncertain times. While the necessary constructive criticism is not always comfortable, it acts, as Churchill said, “like pain in the body” – effectively calling attention “to an unhealthy state of things”. 
 
Our accurate hindsight provided by our unique ‘iFootdown’ diagnostic tool is analysed to produce intelligent foresight that helps Leaders to prepare and change their organisations around their vision more effectively. 
 
This week we ask: How courageous are you? How do you inspire confidence in your vision? 
 
[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2014/08/31/building-bravepeople/?utm_content=buffer91a45&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer 
 
[2] http://hbr.org/2009/07/leadership-in-a-permanent-crisis/ar/1 
 
[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/10/10/a-crisis-of-leadership-whats-next/ 
 
[4] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fb349e1c-c313-11dd-a5ae-000077b07658.html#axzz3CLF0xzrl 
 
Footdown works with organisations to help them in the process of developing high performance teams. Contact us to see how developing a performance culture could help you.