In the last few years, many corporations moved from the so called “golden age” of progress and double digit growth of their annual incomes into the “mode” of serious business transformations in order to fight the challenges of digitization and loss of incomes. In such situations, corporations often tend to choose drastic cost cuts together with business model transformations as their main strategy in order to increase efficiency. The main question here is: to what level can you increase efficiency only by cutting costs, without totally diminishing your business, as well as how long can such a strategy survive.
It is however completely certain that employees in those corporations in such surroundings, do not perceive such a strategy as positive, it does not inspire them to be more productive, to take over the risk and experiment. On the contrary, fear and uncertainty spread all over the company, the employees meet along the corridors and in such situations – gossip becomes the only source of information. In such surroundings, there are always those who are better informed than the others, who have “reliable sources” and their people within top management. Some try to picture themselves as totally indifferent, some try to hide their fear, while some cannot control themselves so the exaggerated concludes with paranoia.
Does this sound familiar? If this is happening to you within the company you work for, be sure this is the first sign that leadership has failed. Regardless if fear is justified or not it is leaders who, in such situations, should take over the responsibility and prove their full potential.
Is fear always harmful and courage always positive and desirable? What is the background of courage. Is it external or internal factor? I will try to answer these questions further below…
Research shows that fear directly correlates with pride and courage. Namely, psychologist from British Colombia University were observing the fear with special anti-explosive units, as well as with fighter pilots who experienced combat. They discovered that courage correlated with fear. Only 26% of people who have dangerous jobs do not feel any fear at all. Almost by the rule, those people are very bad leaders. Opposite them, extraordinary leaders feel fear, but continue their mission regardless. The final conclusion is that courage is actually the answer to fear. This can also be confirmed on Google, if you type the word “courage” in the search bar – you will get the answer as a definition that courage is “the ability to resist fear in dangerous and complicated situations”.
The before mentioned Simon Sinek also agrees with this theory, saying that courage is not an internal factor, that you cannot look deep into yourself and find courage. Courage is a completely external factor claims Simon Sinek. When he asked people who risked their lives for others why they did it (considering the fact they had families, children, that nobody forced them to do so, but the fact that it had been a voluntary act) – he would always get the same answer: Because they were absolutely sure that the people they risked their lives for – would do the same for them in similar situations. Briefly, when we believe that somebody behind us has our backs, cares about us and believes in us, we are ready to do the almost impossible. This is where the previous statement that leadership has failed in the case described above. Instead showing responsibility for people they lead, so called leaders put their own interests above and in such way irreversibly destroyed their credibility and integrity.
In the last blog I wrote I was almost sure that people without social and emotional intelligence cannot be true leaders. Now, besides that, I would like to point out the positive context, more precisely what should a leader have in order to become a true leader. Someone will say this is charisma and vision, which is partially true, since there are extraordinary leaders who do not have charisma. There are also top leaders who posses so called “Steve Jobs” visions, but there are also those who do not have them, but are still good leaders. In the end, one characteristic stands out, that all leaders absolutely must have – which is several times mentioned: courage.
To be a leader is not easy at all and often consists of working under large pressure as well as taking over the complete risk. When a leader clearly tells you he believes in you, that he is ready to take over the risk for you, when he does not let you quit because he believes that you can do what he expects, this will give you courage to continue. To work even more industrious, because you want to show your leader that his decision to take over the risk for you was justified. The most important thing is the fact that the courage is passed on from the leader to a follower. When we see someone with courage, especially if this person is our leader, we will be encouraged to keep on and follow him. This is the reason why we should undertake great endeavors together, almost by rule, as a group and with people sharing same beliefs as we do.
With respect to this, did you know that all great leaders talk to their employees about their families, parents, friends? This is because you cannot make the ultimate success alone, but you need courage which comes as the result of support from people who believe in you. This is the main reason why, for instance, in the army it often happens that when some of the officers quit their jobs – some of their soldiers immediately follow.
We can say courage and leaderships are like muscles. We cannot build them instantly, but gradually, by practicing every day. Sometimes we will feel the pain, but if we continue the pain will stop. You can lift the big load if unprepared only once, with lots of luck and a great chance to hurt yourself, but if you want to repeat the endeavor everyday practice is essential. Step by step.
Let us conclude this blog by the sentence: If you feel the fear about something that is to happen, you are on the good path to gather courage for the challenge you are about to face, provided that you are surrounded with people who believe in you, care about you, to have your back and are ready to take over the risk for you.
Once, when I said I hoped I would succeed, one of my associates literally replied:” There is a great difference between hope and faith. People who wait for things to happen – they hope, and those who believe in themselves and affect their own lives – they believe. He said all this hoping I would succeed. And I did.
This blog is dedicated to the group called “The salvation for all of us”. Good luck! :-).