Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Three Essentials of Leadership - Part 3

"There are three essentials to leadership: humanity, clarity and courage."

-- Zen Lessons, Translated by Thomas Cleary

Part 3: Courage

In Part 2 I provided the example of a CEO that had values clarity that made her decision very clear. If the client could not be trusted to do the right thing, the best thing for her company was to walk away from the deal, regardless of the income potential. But of course, having clarity on what to do is not the same as doing it. She and her sales representative also had to have the courage to execute on their conviction.

In that example, the client did do the right thing and her company did not have to walk away from the deal. So, we don't fully know if the third essential of leadership -- courage -- would have prevailed. We do know she had the courage to give her sales person the authority to walk away, but we don't know if he would have had the courage to do it had the client continued engaging in unethical behavior.

The other two essentials of leadership are only meaninful when combined with courage.

Humanity, the ability to let your guard down, requires courage. People can and do take advantage of perceived weakness. But letting that fact prevent you from opening yourself to the possibilities that come from getting help from others makes you weak in reality, not just perception.

Having clarity of values, vision and focus is ultimately meaningless if you don't have the courage to follow through. You have to know the right thing to do and have the courage to do it.


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